May 1, 2021
A story goes that Mark Twain was once invited to give a speech. He walked out onto the stage, went to the podium, and stood there. He just looked out into the audience, and they looked back. The theatre was in complete silence. After 10 minutes, someone started laughing nervously, at which point the entire audience began laughing. Only after that did he begin to speak. That silence was powerful, and perhaps even audible. And wouldn’t you know it, but we learn about silence in a holiday coming up just a couple of weeks from now.
On the first day of Shavuot, we read the Ten Commandments, which begin with the silent letter Aleph. The Rabbis teach us that when God spoke the Ten Commandments, the Israelites heard every letter, including the letter Aleph (which has no sound.) What is going on? You could read this midrash as a way to say that they were seeing a miracle occur, and during miraculous events, all perceptions are altered. But I prefer to read it in a way that adds to the way we understand the world. Silences have meaning and power. Without silence, we would not know where one sentence ends, and another begins. When everything goes silent in a horror movie, we all know something is about to happen, and tense up. The silence of some things (like cars) allows us to appreciate the beauty of softer sounds (like birds). Paying attention to silence adds a special depth to our perception of the world around us Perhaps, this is what the Torah attempts to teach here. The silence of the Aleph is not a lack of sound, but a purposeful addition of silence. It is to teach us to appreciate the quiet, and the sounds that are only possible because of silence. And before God begins to teach, God gave us that precious moment where we could pause, prepare, and get excited to learn.
Speaking of learning, don’t forget that registration is now open for 5782! You can sign up here: https://forms.gle/B6VbkDYd
Rabbi Nover’s Message PLEASE JOIN US! WEEKDAY MORNING MINYAN Sunday 8:45 am Thursday 7:15 a.m. Start your morning off with prayer! Rabbi Kornsgold Continued from p. 1 75tAsZHAA We also wish a Mazal Tov to Jeremy Schaffel on his Bar Mitzvah.
Bonus Challenge: Study something about Judaism. It can be a book, a prayer, or a verse from Torah. 100 points per thing. Special Dates: 5/1 – Junior Congregation in Person 5/3 – Zayin Invitational 5/6 – BJC Online 5/6 – JC Online 5/9 – T4T 5/10 – Zayin Invitational 5/12 – Zayin Class Prayer Showcase 5/15 – Junior Congregation in Person 5/15 – Schaffel BM 5/16 – Aleph Bet Prayer Showcase 5/17- No Hebrew High (Shavuot) 5/20 – BJC Online 5/20 – JC Online 5/21 – Confirmation (Outdoor Service) 5/23 – T4T Last Day 5/23 – Aleph/ Bet Last Day 5/24 – Hebrew High (Last Day) 5/26 – Last Day of RS
—Rabbi Matt Nover, Assistant Rabbi and Education Director