Weekly Update Archives




July 25, 2013


High Holy Days

Information and Schedule




Rosh Hashanah starts Wednesday night, September 4th.

Make your reservations NOW.





This Week’s Shabbat Schedule

Friday Evening, July 26  6:30 pm
Kabbalat Shabbat services at the Rabbi’s home
Followed by CSH Community Dinner



Shabbat Morning 9:30 am
Unitarian Universalist Meeting House
977 Bridge-Sag Tpke , Bridgehampton, NY

Kiddush is sponsored by Sheila and Norman Bleckner in celebration of Norman’s Birthday




Rabbi Chaim Seidler Feller
August 2 – 3 @ CSH

 Friday night Dinner and Study,Searching for God in Judaism Part I”
Reservations Required by Tuesday July 30

(No charge for members / $35 pp non-members)
Shabbat morning D’var Torah, “Searching for God in Judaism Part II”

Havdalah and Study, “Rediscovering Ahad Ha’am and His Zionism of Values” 7:30 @ the home of Rabbi Uhrbach


CHAIM SEIDLER-FELLER has been working with students and faculty as the Executive Director of the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA for thirty-eight years. He is also the director of the Hartman Fellowship for Campus Professionals.


Click here for reservations and complete information.


Thank you Millie Wallace, Lorraine Schottenfeld and Miriam Brous for sponsoring Kiddish in honor or Rabbi Chaim Seidler Feller



This week’s Torah reading: Ekev


Annual: Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 (Etz Hayim p. 1037)
Triennial: Deuteronomy 10:12-11:25 (Etz Hayim p. 1048)
Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3 (Etz Hayim p. 1057)

Summary: In this week’s parasha, Moses continues his review of the exodus experience, reminding the Israelites of how God has cared for them in the wilderness. He reiterates the covenant and continues to review the general rewards that will benefit the Israelites if they are faithful to God and follow God’s commandments. It is simple: if the Israelites follow the Torah, God will bless them in the land, and drive out their enemies. If they do not obey God, then….
Moses warns them not to follow other gods or engage in idolatrous worship practises. Moses also reminds the Israelites of some of their earlier rebellious incidents, including the events around the building of the Golden Calf and the destruction of the first set of tablets. The parasha concludes with the passage which is used liturgically as the second paragraph of the Shema. These words reiterate the connection between Israel’s piety and God’s blessing.



Yearning for God requires us to maintain a delicate balance–allowing our emotions to flow, while allowing our intellects to maintain integrity.


This week’s Torah portion informs us of a serious obstacle to spiritual health: thinking that “my strength, and the power of my hands, have achieved this victory”.  The human ego can be its own worst enemy. People accomplish things, but may forget to be grateful to God for these accomplishments.  The more they succeed in worldly matters, the more they attribute their success to their own talents; the more highly they think of themselves, the less they may think of God. They lose the sense of spiritual yearning. They become self-satisfied and content. They luxuriate in their material success, not realizing that in the process they undermine their own souls. They set the wrong values for themselves and for their families. Spiritual rot sets in. Nothing is more antithetical to genuine religious experience than complacency and self-satisfaction.


Yearning: the power to love God with all our hearts and all our souls; the power to overcome our egotism; the power to maintain spiritual focus; the humility to live our lives in constant striving to experience God’s presence.  It is not easy to attain the highest levels of spiritual growth: this requires a deep and abiding sense of yearning.



The book of Deuteronomy, which we began to read a few weeks ago, is a retelling by Moshe of earlier parts of the Torah. The name Deuteronomy, like the rabbinic name for the book, Mishneh Torah, means “the second law.” Why do we need a “second” Torah?

…Its very existence tells us something about the Torah’s attitude toward life and learning — that repetition is essential. Human beings don’t generally understand things the first time they hear them. We are slow learners. Hence in the first paragraph of the Shma, read in last week’s parsha, we say, Veshinantam levanekha – “you should repeat them [these words] to your children.”

We were slow learners back in the days of the desert, too, Moshe tells us, or as he says, am keshei oref, a people with a hard neck, a stubborn people who need to be shown and taught multiple times the same lesson.

Even the giving of the Torah happened twice. The first time, we were too busy with other things, too busy worshipping our gold idol to really listen, so Moshe went back up for another 40 days and brought back down a second set of tablets. Sometimes people can’t do things right the first time round. God doesn’t give up on us but merely tries again.

The same thing happens when it comes to entering the land of Israel. The first time we screw it up. We are scared and unbelieving. We need to practice our faith skills so that the second time, this time, we can really enter.

Getting the Torah and entering the land are two of the most important things that happen to us as a nation. And they both happen twice. The message is that these things are not really one-time events at all, but works in progress. We are strivers, learners, always receiving the Torah and always on the cusp of entering the land.

In this week’s parsha, we read the second paragraph of the Shma, another instance of doubling, as is the command to recite the Shma “when one goes to sleep and when one awakes,” twice a day. The second paragraph of the Shma begins with its own linguistic doubling, Vehaya im shamo’a tishme’u, “If, then, you surely hear [or obey].” Rashi comments that the first shamo’a refers to old Torah, and the second tishme’u to new Torah. “If you listen to the old, you will be able to hear the new.” If on the other hand, you forget part of the Torah, says Rashi, interpreting another doubled verb, then you will end up forgetting the entire Torah. Each repeated action reinforces itself and creates a path for the future.

The Torah is continually unfolding, says the Sefat Emet about Rashi’s comment here. That is part of what it means to have a “second Torah.” The implication is that we are never finished receiving, never finished learning the Torah. We are to take the stance toward Torah which the book of Deuteronomy takes, a stance of shamo’a tishme’u, of repetition and novelty, understanding that we are part of the process of continued revelation through our repetition or retelling of the Torah.




IT IS POSSIBLE to eat everything in sight and to say 100 blessings a day in perfect Hebrew, and yet remain unsatisfied. The spiritual challenge of Ekev is to break the spell of consumerism whose power rests in our continual dissatisfaction.
As you enter the Land of your life: a land of fountains and depths, valleys and hills, shopping malls and glossy catalogues, a land of wheat and barley, television commercials and billboards and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a place of comforts and the illusion of security… you are in mortal danger of forgetting where all of these gifts come from. It will seem that you made this life for yourself, that you are the Creator.
As I go in to conquer the land and make a life for myself, the force of my ambition begins to rise. Each success feeds that ambition; each failure pushes me into exerting more force. Here is the spiritual challenge of Ekev. How do I protect myself from the corrupting power of my own ambition? How do I discern between self-destructive greed and a true, healthy appetite for pleasure that allows the blessing of satisfaction to manifest?




Yom Huledat Sameach

Gary Gaines
Lorraine Schottenfeld
Ira Schwarz
Carol Steinberg


 End Quote


Saturday Afternoon Request

By Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

Help me to silence
my mind’s aggravation alarm,
to quiet the voice which says
the to-do list matters,
to temporarily eschew
continuous partial attention.

Open me to long slow conversations
on the sunlit grass, to the beat
of the hand-drummers who accompany
the singing of psalms, to a boat
lazily drifting on the glassy surface
of my heart’s own pond.

You’re waiting for me
like a lover, eager
to embrace me again.
Remind me: this is the way
back to Eden, the bloom
on the thirteen-petaled rose.




Kiddush and Dinner Sponsors

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Shabbat Shalom. 



Stacy Menzer
The Conservative Synagogue of the Hamptons

PO Box 1196
Bridgehampton, NY 11932