Parshat Naso

1st day Shavuot
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May 18, 2013 9 Sivan, 5773

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on Parshat Naso
As mentioned in a previous Covenant and Conversation, there was an ongoing debate between the sages as to whether the nazirite – whose laws are outlined in this week’s parsha – was to be praised or not. Recall that the nazirite was someone who voluntarily, usually for a specified period, undertook a special form of holiness. This meant that he was forbidden to consume wine or any grape products, to have a haircut and to defile himself by contact with the dead. Naziriteship was essentially a renunciation of desire. Why someone would choose to do this is not clear. It may be that he wanted to protect himself against drunkenness or to cure himself of alcoholism. It could be that he wanted to experience a higher form of holiness. Forbidden as he was to have contact with the dead, even for a close relative, he was in this respect in the same position as the High Priest. Becoming a nazirite was one way in which a noncohen could adopt cohenlike behavior. Some sages argued that the juxtaposition of the law of the nazirite with that of the sotah, the woman suspected of adultery, hinted at the fact that there were people who became nazirites to protect themselves from sexual immorality. Alcohol suppresses inhibitions and increases sexual desire. Be that as it may, there were mixed views on whether it was a good thing or a bad one to become a nazirite. On the one hand the Torah calls him “holy to G-d” (Num. 6: 8). On the other, at the completion of his period of abstinence, he is commanded to bring a sin offering (Num. 6: 1314). From this, Rabbi Eliezer Hakappar Berebi, drew the following inference: What is the meaning of the phrase (Num. 6: 11), and make atonement for him, because he sinned against the soul (usually translated as “by coming into contact with the dead”). Against which soul did he sin? We must conclude that it refers to denying himself the enjoyment of wine. From this we may infer that if one who denies himself the enjoyment of wine is called a sinner, all the more so one who denies himself the enjoyment of other pleasures of life. It follows that one who keeps fasting is called a sinner. (Taanit 11a; Nedarim 10a) Clearly R. Eliezer Hakappar is engaging in a polemic against asceticism in Jewish life. We do not know which groups he may have had in mind. Many of the early Christians were ascetics. So in some respects were the members of the Qumran sect known to us through the Dead Sea Scrolls. Holy people in many faiths have chosen, in pursuit of spiritual purity, to withdraw from the world, its pleasures and temptations, fasting, afflicting themselves and living in caves, retreats or monasteries. In the Middle Ages there were Jews who adopted self-denying practices – among them the Hassidei Ashkenaz, the Pietists of Northern Europe, as well as many Jews in Islamic lands. It is hard not to see in these patterns of behavior at least some influence from the non-Jewish environment. The Hassidei Ashkenaz who flourished during the time of the Crusades lived among deeply pious, self-mortifying Christians. Their southern counterparts would have been familiar with Sufism, the mystical movement in Islam. The ambivalence of Jews toward the life of self-denial may therefore lie in the suspicion that it entered Judaism from the outside. There were movements in the first centuries of the Common Era in both the West (Greece) and the East (Iran) that saw the physical world as a place of corruption and strife. They were dualists, holding that the true God was not the creator of the universe and could not be reached within the universe. The physical world was the work of a lesser, and evil, deity. Hence

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Shabbat Times (Shavuot Times see page two)

Candle Lighting Friday Mincha Hashkama Parsha Shiur Youth Minyan Main Minyan Beit Midrash Gemorah Shiur Mincha Shabbat Ends Sunday, May 19 Mon., Thur. Tues., Wed., Fri. Mincha

7:50 pm 7:00 pm 8:00 pm 8:30 am 8:30 am 9:00 am 9:15 pm 6:45 pm 7:45 pm 8:59 pm 7:30/8:30 am 6:35/7:45 am 6:45/7:45 am 7:50 pm

Latest Times for Shema/ Shmoneh Esrei May 18 May 25
9:14/10:27 am 9:12/10:25 am

Next Shabbat Beha’aloscha Candle Lighting Mincha 7:56 pm 7:00 pm

Kiddush both days of Shavuot is sponsored by Great Neck Synagogue with a Herring Table on the first day sponsored by George Aryeh in honor of all the Aryeh children

Kiddush on Shabbat is sponsored by Great Neack Synagogue

26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, NY 11023 (516) 487-6100 holiness means withdrawing from the physical world, its pleasures, appetites and desires. The two best known movements to hold this view were Gnosticism in the West and Manichaeism in the East. So at least some of the negative evaluation of the nazirite may have been driven by a desire to discourage Jews from imitating non-Jewish tendencies in Christianity and Islam. What is remarkable however is the position of Maimonides, who holds both views, positive and negative. In Hilkhot Deot, the Laws of Ethical Character, Maimonides adopts the negative position of R. Eliezer Hakappar: “A person may say: ‘Desire, honour and the like are bad paths to follow and remove a person from the world, therefore I will completely separate myself from them and go to the other extreme.’ As a result, he does not eat meat or drink wine or take a wife or live in a decent house or wear decent clothing . . . This too is bad, and it is forbidden to choose this way.” (Hilkhot Deot 3:1) Yet in the same book, the Mishneh Torah, he writes: “Whoever vows to God [to become a nazirite] by way of holiness, does well and is praiseworthy . . . Indeed Scripture considers him the equal of a prophet” (Hilkhot Nezirut 10: 14). How does any writer come to adopt so self-contradictory a position – let alone one as resolutely logical as Maimonides? The answer is profound. According to Maimonides, there is not one model of the virtuous life, but two. He calls them respectively the way of the saint (Hassid) and the sage (Hakham). The saint is a person of extremes. Maimonides defines hessed as extreme behavior – good behavior, to be sure, but conduct in excess of what strict justice requires (Guide for the Perplexed III, 52). So, for example, “If one avoids haughtiness to the utmost extent and becomes exceedingly humble, he is termed a saint (hassid)” (Hilkhot Deot 1: 5). The sage is a completely different kind of person. He follows the “golden mean”, the “middle way” of moderation and balance. He or she avoids the extremes of cowardice on the one hand, recklessness on the other, and thus acquires the virtue of courage. The sage avoids both miserliness and renunciation of wealth, hoarding or giving away all he has, and thus becomes neither stingy nor foolhardy but generous. He or she knows the twin dangers of too much and too little – excess and deficiency. The sage weighs conflicting pressures and avoids extremes. These are not just two types of person but two ways of understanding the moral life itself. Is the aim of morality to achieve personal perfection? Or is it to create gracious relationships and a decent, just, compassionate society? The intuitive answer of most people would be to say: both. That is what makes

Shabbat Announcements Parshat Naso 5773 Maimonides so acute a thinker. He realizes that you can’t have both – that they are in fact different enterprises. A saint may give all his money away to the poor. But what about the members of the saint’s own family? A saint may refuse to fight in battle. But what about the saint’s fellow citizens? A saint may forgive all crimes committed against him. But what about the rule of law, and justice? Saints are supremely virtuous people, considered as individuals. But you cannot build a society out of saints alone. Indeed, saints are not really interested in society. They have chosen a different, lonely, self-segregating path. They are seeking personal salvation rather than collective redemption. It is this deep insight that led Maimonides to his seemingly contradictory evaluations of the nazirite. The nazirite has chosen, at least for a period, to adopt a life of extreme self-denial. He is a saint, a hassid. He has adopted the path of personal perfection. That is noble, commendable, a high ideal. But it is not the way of the sage – and you need sages if you seek to perfect society. The reason the sage is not an extremist is because he or she realizes that there are other people at stake. There are the members of one’s own family; the others within one’s own community; there are colleagues at work; there is a country to defend and a nation to help build. The sage knows it is dangerous, even morally selfindulgent, to leave all these commitments behind to pursue a life of solitary virtue. For we are called on by God to live in the world, not escape from it; in society not seclusion; to strive to create a balance among the conflicting pressures on us, not to focus on some while neglecting the others. Hence, while from a personal perspective the nazirite is a saint, from a societal perspective he is, at least figuratively, a “sinner” who has to be bring an atonement offering. Judaism makes room for individuals to escape from the temptations of the world. The supreme example is the nazirite. But this is an exception, not the norm. To be a chakham, a sage, is to have the courage to engage with the world, despite all the spiritual risks, and to help bring a fragment of the Divine presence into the shared spaces of our collective life.

Great Neck Synagogue Shabbat Activities Program TUESDAY NIGHT: Candle Lighting Mincha WEDNESDAY: Hashkama Main Minyan Beit Midrash Mincha Candle Lighting after THURSDAY: Morning services Mincha Maariv Yom Tov ends 7:47 pm 7:50 pm 8:00 am 9:00 am 9:15 am 7:50 pm 8:52 pm same as Wed. 7:45 pm 8:50 pm 8:57 pm

Dale Polakoff, Rabbi Ian Lichter, Assistant Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Wolf ,z”l, Rabbi Emeritus Ze’ev Kron, Cantor Eleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor Emeritus Rabbi Sholom Jensen, Youth Director Zehava & Michael Atlas, Youth Directors Mark Twersky, Executive Director Rabbi Avraham Bronstein, Program Director Dr. Scott Danoff, President Harold Domnitch, Chairman of the Board

Celebrating Shavuot, 5773
Tuesday Night, May 14 TIKUN LEIL SHAVUOT @ GNS
11:30 pm – 12:20 am - Ballroom Rabbi Dale Polakoff The Kedusha of the Kotel and Women of the Wall 12:20 am – 1:10 am - Ballroom Rabbi Yaacov Lerner "So What was the real reason why Hashem staged MaamadHar Sinai – the awesome Revelation at Sinai?” 1:10 am— 1:30 am -Gym Break and Refreshments 1:30 am – 3:00 am Rabbis Acobas, Ismach, Jensen, Lichter, Slomnicki and Dr. Atlas - Ballroom The Modern Orthodox Chinuch Roundtable This exciting panel will deal with many of the controversial issues relating to educating both children and adults and this year will focus on: Modern Orthodoxy From the Eyes of Our Children A part of the session will be dedicated to questions from the audience. 3:15 am—4:05 am - Ballroom Rabbi Ian Lichter “Karaoke and Kedusha – Secular Music in the Synagogue” 4:10 am—5:00 am - Ballroom Rabbi Shmuel Ismach “The Halacha and History of Drafting Yeshiva Students” Chevruta learning throughout the night in the Beit Midrash 5:05 am– Shacharit 5:37 am- Netz (Sunrise)

Thursday Afternoon, May 16 3rd Annual SHAVUOT BARBECUE & LEARNING @ GNS
This event and learning is sponsored by Rita Gordonson on the 3rd yahrzeit of her husband Lewis Gordonson,z”l. 6:00 – 6:45 pm Barbecue Dinner in the Gym 6:45 – 7:45 pm Child care and special programming for children in Braun Youth Center 6:45 – 7:45 pm Panel Presentation and Discussion with Rabbis Polakoff and Lichter Beit Midrash Shalom Bayit – the Seven Jewish Habits of Successful Families A part of the session will be dedicated to questions from the audience. 7:45 pm Mincha 8:10 – 8:50pm NEILAT HACHAG Learning with Rabbi Bronstein Gym (Mender Auditorium) “Gatsby and Gratitude: Celebrating God’s Bounty on Shavuot” 8:50 pm Maariv 8:57 pm Conclusion of Yom Tov

See Flyer for complete Youth Program for Shavuot

GNS UPCOMING EVENTS SUNDAY BREAKFAST Breakfast is sponsored by Elizabeth Katzwer, Carol Karbowitz and Lynn Steinberg in memory of their husband and father, Jacob Katzwer, z”l WITHIN OUR FAMILY

Mazal Tov to Rebbetzin Elaine Wolf on the birth of a great-granddaughter born to her grandchildren Tamar & Tzvi Mostovicz of Beersheva, Israel. Mazal Tov also to grandparents Dr. David & Leah Wolf. Mazal Tov to Bonnie & Elliot Diamond on the Bar Mitzvah of their grandson Alec, son of Janet & Louis HASKAMA MINYAN Diamond in Chappaqua, NY. Kiddush is sponsored by Florin & Howard Silberstein in Mazal Tov to Harriet & David Schimel on the memory of his mother Libie Silberstein,z”l. upcoming marriage of their daughter Tamar to Shirel Safra. Mazal Tov to Susan & Bruce Decter on the MEN’S CLUB UPCOMING EVENTS: engagement of her daughter Daniella Forman to May 21: Israel Bond Community Event at Temple Israel. Jeffrey Kirshner, son of Marla & Mark Kirshner of Mon, May 27, Memorial Day 7:10PM: We invite you and your Chicago. Mazal Tov also to grandparents Anita & Hal family to join us at Citi Field, Queens to see YANKEES vs METS. Discounted ticket price: $54.00 per person (adult or child). Please Beretz and Annette & Irving Forman.
make checks to GNS Mens Club. If you are interested, please contact Jack Lipsky at 829-6187 or Hilly Milun 448-4890 We have a limited number of tickets available. Please order early. See page 2. June 12 & 13 Wed. & Thur., Defensive Driving Course: Reduce your auto insurance premiums by taking the Defensive Driving course, which will be held over two evenings from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Limited seating. $17.00 for AARP members and $19.00 for non-members. Please make checks payable to AARP. Please call Al Leiderman 516-482-0628 for reservations.

SAVE THE DATE There will be a parenting lecture co-sponsored by the Great Neck Synagogue and Young Israel given by Mrs. Sharon Richter, Judaic Studies principal at SAR Academy Lower School. The lecture is entitled - Creating a Home Illuminated with Respect, Love, and Torah Values and will take place on May 20th at 8:00 PM at the home of Alana and Adam Gelnick - 55 Deepdale Drive in Great Neck Estates.

NSHA– SHAARE ZEDEK WALKATHON SUNDAY MAY 19 The NSHA Middle School will host a Walk-a-thon to benefit Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem on Sun., May 19, 2013 from 10am-12 pm, the. The walk will begin and end at NSHA located at 26 Old Mill Road. All proceeds will be used to purchase a Neonatal Crib for the new Next Generation Children’s Facility that is opening at Shaare Zedek. Sponsorships are available at $36, $72, $100, $180, $360, and $500. Checks should be made payable to Shaare Zedek Medical Center- For further info, please contact Sharon Goldwyn 917 287 7334. Registration begins at 9:30am. SAVE THE DATE Mets vs Reds, Tuesday, May 21st @ Citified to support ISCD (Israel Sports Center for the Disabled) $50 Upper Deck; $100 Field Level; $150 Better Field Level.Price includes game (7:10PM), 4:30 tailgate BBQ and 5:30 mincha! Please contact or 516.297.9610 for information or group sales. PARLOR MEETING A wine and cheese parlor meeting for Uri L'Tzedek will take place on Wed., May 29, from 8:00 to 9:30 at the home of Rebecca & Nate Wiesel, 52 Radnor Road.

GREAT NECK MEMORIAL DAY PARADE Monday, May 27, 2013 at 9:15 am We are looking for shul members of all ages to join us as we march behind our shul’s banner. To make our presentation even more exciting, those with convertibles, classic cars or motorcycles and scooters are encouraged to join with us as well. There will be T-Shirts and Flags for all. Sponsored by the Men's Club and Sisterhood. Any questions, please feel free to contact Alan Steinberg, our parade Chair at

OHEL SHABBATON We are looking for host families for our next OHEL Shabbaton on June 1st. Host duties will include sleeping arrangements and Friday night dinner. All host families will be invited to spend lunch at GNS together with OHEL. If you are interested in housing, please contact Rabbi Lichter at

ISRAEL BONDS The Great Neck Community Israel Bond event will take place on Tuesday evening, May 21, 7:30 pm , at Temple Israel in Great Neck. Our members Martin & Shoshana Sokol will be among the honorees. For more information and reservations, please contact Anne Bernstein, 212-446-5853 or see Tricia Moslin.


Saturday, 9 Sivan Serge Fischler for Hanny Fischler Carol Karbowitz for Jacob Katzwer Heather Siegelman for Eric Levi Lynn Steinberg for Jacob Katzwer Sunday, 10 Sivan Mitchell Benerofe for Sidney Benerofe Idida Kaplan for Ahuva Abramovsky Tuesday, 12 Sivan Tom Furst for Harry Furst Gitty Louzoun for Anna Malek Howard Silberstein for Libie Silberstein Judith Weinstein for Beatrice Eichenhon Wednesday, 13 Sivan Zachary Dicker for Samuel Dicker Gloria Faizakoff for Philip Cohen Tzipporah Gruber for William Mandell Celia Lemonik for Albert Dorner Friday, 15 Sivan Mark Lubin for Robert Lubin

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