This Shabbat is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, the new moon marking one month before Rosh Hashanah. I want to invite all of you into a challenge with me: the Elul Love Your Neighbor Study Challenge.
Part of the process of teshuvah (returning, redirecting ourselves) is studying what the Torah says about relationships between people and our responsibilities in the world. One of the unique ways the Jewish community can reshape the world in the new year is by bringing into action our teachings about compassion and justice.
What better way to start doing both of those things than to study this month a verse that is at the literal center of the Torah: וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ V’ahavta l’ray’acha kamocha “Love your neighbor as yourself”
The tradition of Jewish commentary on this phrase, each word within it, and its context in the Torah make clear that this is not some vague and gooey teaching. Rather, it opens up a set of challenges and questions that we have to figure out how to apply in our personal lives and as citizens.
I would like to study this verse during the month of Elul, between now and Rosh Hashanah, with at least 75 people. I hope many will be people who don’t already usually study Torah.
When and How:
If you are interested in hosting a study salon at your home, or setting up some study time with me for yourself or a small group at the synagogue or another place, contact me as soon as possible! Or, come to one of these ready-made opportunities:
Love Your Neighbor Café (coffee, tea, etc are on me!)
Thursday, Aug. 16 10:00-11:00 a.m. A&E Coffee Roasters, 135 Rte 101A, Amherst
Friday, Aug. 17 10:30-11:30 a.m. Buckley’s Bakery and Café, 436 Daniel Webster Hwy, Merrimack
Wednesday, Aug. 22 1:00-2:00 p.m. The Village Bean, 33 Indian Rock Rd (Rte 111), Windham
Tuesday, Aug. 28 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Riverwalk Café, 35 Railroad Square, Nashua
Lunch Hour Torah – call in or participate by video through the web
12:00-1:00 p.m. Aug. 14, 22, or 30
Just click https://zoom.us/j/5530075723 or call (929) 436-2866 or (669) 900 6833, use meeting ID 553 007 5723
Beit Midrash In-Depth Study Session – 2 Hours of Torah (With Snacks)
6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, August 16 and Tuesday, August 28
at Temple Beth Abraham (20 minute interlude for minyan at 7:30 p.m.)
I hope this sparks many conversations. I know I will learn a lot through this learning together, about ethics and relationships and even politics, and we will figure out ways to share what we learn. I'll post updates on how far we are toward the surface goal of the challenge, and include a small taste of the topic in my regular Elul e-blasts.
May this be a step toward a Shana Tova Umetukah, a good and sweet New Year!
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov, a good new month,