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Temple Israel of Scranton

Temple Israel of Scranton

An Egalitarian, Conservative Jewish Congregation – Be A Part of Us!

918 East Gibson Street, Scranton, PA 18510
(570) 342-0350 | Email Us

Mishpatim, 5781

Posted on February 12, 2021

Does anyone notice how beautiful the moon was last night? Trick question. Of course, you did not. It is Rosh Hodesh Adar, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Adar, and the moon is not visible on Rosh Hodesh (regardless of how cloudy or clear the night may be).  

The Shabbat that precedes or coincides with Rosh Hodesh Adar is called Shabbat Shekalim. It is the first of four special shabbatot before Pesah, named after the special Torah reading for this occasion (more details on this tomorrow).

Under normal circumstances, this would be a 3-Torah Shabbat, which does not happen very often. We would be taking three sifrei Torah, three Torah scrolls, out of the ark tomorrow and reading from all of them. From the first, we would read parashat mishpatim, the regular Torah portion of the week. From the second we would read from parashat pinhas, the section about the sacrifices for Rosh Hodesh. And from the third, we would read from parashat ki-tisa, the section of the half-shekel census of Israelite men of military age, that is, above the age of 20.  

It is interesting what people miss in the current circumstance of not being able to do in-person Shabbat services. I LOVE taking three Torahs out of the ark and get very excited on those rare opportunities that it occurs. This week what I am going to miss most is the experience of taking out three sifrei Torah from the ark. We will read all the relevant parts out of the humash book, but we will not be taking even one sefer Torah from the ark, let alone three. 

But — there is a custom to eat kugels on Shabbat according to the number of Torahs for that Shabbat. So on a regular Shabbat there might be one kind of kugel. On the unusual Shabbat when there are two Torah scrolls, there would be two kinds of kugel served over Shabbat. And on the very rare Shabbat when there are 3 Torah scrolls, there are three kinds of kugel served. How many kinds of kugel can you think of? Sweet lokshen kugel, savory noodle kugel, potato kugel, sweet-potato kugel, kugel Yerushalmi — and what others?

Wishing you a Shabbat shalom, a guten hodesh (happy Rosh Hodesh), and a pleasant 3-kugel Shabbat!

Sermon topic for tonight: Labor Law and Para