Today is January 29, 2020 -

Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center

A Jewish Community Built on Caring, Prayer and Learning

210-10 Union Turnpike, Hollis Hills, NY 11364
(718) 776-3500

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Shabbat Shemot 5780

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When we think of spirituality, we usually think of things ephemeral and esoteric. The term itself is based on a word, spirit, that is intangible and therefore not subject to the rules that apply to concrete and tangible things. That would lead one to think that there is little-to-no connection between the spirit and the body.

One kabbalistic commentator on the Torah, Meir ben Halifa Bikayam, thought otherwise. He explored a verse from early in our Torah portion, Shemot, that uses puzzling language: “But the Israelites were fertile and prolific; they multiplied and increased greatly, so that the land was filled [with] them” (Exodus 1:7). Notice the word in parentheses; that’s because the Hebrew says Vatimalei ha-artez otam, which means literally that “the land filled them.”

In his commentary on the Torah called Me-orei Or, Bikayam (who lived in Turkey in the 18th century and was likely a disciple of the charlatan messianic leader Shabbetai Tzvi) uses classic kabbalistic motifs to argue that Jewish spirituality requires a healthy physical component. On Shabbat morning, we’ll look at his commentary, which should inspire us to appreciate this week’s Lunch and Learn on a serious public health concern.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi David Wise