Shelach Lecha -- Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

"Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you are being watched and recorded."

This remark by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor who made headlines in 2013 when he leaked top secret information about NSA surveillance activities, is indeed curious – and it has theological implications. In a wired, connected world in which almost everything we do is monitored, how does the Torah’s understanding of espionage strike us?

Espionage is a form of reconnoitering and a test of emunah — of one’s steadfast trust and conviction. As the 12 spies head out on their mission, they think they know what awaits them and so do the people that sent them. 40 days later, these spies return carrying produce from the land, including a cluster of grapes, a pomegranate, and a fig along with a report of the land’s bountifulness. 10 of the spies also warn the Israelites that the giant inhabitants are overpowering. Only Joshua and Caleb dissent, claiming the land can be conquered.

As the Israelites weep, yearning to return to Egypt, the divine decree emerges that they must enter the Promised Land by way of a circuitous route — by way of a forty-year trek through the desert. This period of journeying will allow time enough for the remorseful population to die out, making space for a new generation to emerge, one that will be more open to entering into a meaningful relationship of responsibility with the land divinely granted to them.

Parashat Shelach Lecha also includes legislation regarding the offerings of meal, wine, and oil, as well as laws pertaining to challah and the ritual fringes known as tzitzit that are on any four-cornered garment.

The possibility of knowing (and appreciating) a strong sense of omnipresence of the divine in our lives – that "we are being watched and recorded" – can be constructive if we see it as a spiritual opportunity, a way for us to see our actions honestly and ensure that they have lasting meaning.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's illustration shows forty tally (or hash) marks stylized as linen-wrapped corpses. Inspired by Numbers 14:32-34 – "But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this desert...According to the number of days which you toured the Land forty days, a day for each year, you will [thus] bear your iniquities for forty years; thus you will come to know My alienation." – this is the count of an anthropomorphized, aggrieved, and estranged G-d. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Devarim -- Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22

Facebook_CoverDesign_DevarimThe great American boxer Muhammad Ali once remarked: "It's the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen."

When we turn to the repetition of the Law through its namesake (the Book of Deuteronomy, from deutero, meaning "repetition," and nomos, meaning "law"), we find Moses laying out his legacy plan through the repetition of the Law to the assembly.

Part of this Mosaic legacy entails his recounting the Israelites' 40-year journey from Egypt to Sinai, and eventually to the Promised Land. Part of the challenge along the way has been to solidify a cohesive practice. Moses now recognizes that this practice must take the form of sacral deeds called mitzvot.

Tied up with his reiteration of the Law, Moses also recounts the further challenges he faced as leader – countless battles with warring nations as well as the inter-tribal conflicts surrounding division of land. The generation of the desert, still imbued with the Egyptian slave mentality, must die out before a new community can be truly committed to this covenant.

For the legacy to be good and effective, Moses must transmit to Joshua, who engages in "counter-effectuation" — the possibility of conviction emerging from repetition is how the Mosaic legacy is carried forward with his own imprint.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's illustration is a depiction of Joshua. Behind him, loosely rendered, we see spectres of the Nephilim, the giants or fallen angels that reportedly inhabited the Promised Land. Unlike their ten scout companions, Joshua and Caleb believed the Israelites could conquer Canaan's fearsome inhabitants. For his bravery and virtue, Joshua would later inherit the mantle of Moses. "But Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you he will go there; strengthen him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it." (Deuteronomy 1:38) Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Take Us Out To The Ball Game!

ChristopherOrevReigerNoahPhilippDaleKleisleyKatherineFreidmanBarboniAdinahRatner_SFGiantsJewishHeritageNight_August2016It's that time of the year again!

CBS invites you to join your fellow congregants and other members of the Bay Area Jewish community for San Francisco Giants Jewish Heritage Night on Monday, August 21.


This annual celebration of Jewish identity and heritage is always a home run of fun, and this year the fellas in black and orange need our cheers more than ever! Our beloved Giants are struggling to keep their post-season aspirations alive, and our supportive voices are needed to help Buster, Madison, and company take on a group of Midwestern beer makers (a.k.a., the Milwaukee Brewers) in what may well be an important late-season game.

We'll be sitting in Lower Box Section 135 (Left Field), with an unimpeded view of all the on-field action. This year, as last, we're offering two ticket packages.

The $36 event package includes:
- 1 seat in the CBS section (Lower Box 135 - Left Field) for the game (begins at 7:15 p.m.)
- A collector's-edition, Lou Seal bobble head with a shofar (produced by the SF Giants)
- Admission to the Jewish Heritage Night Pregame Party, 5 - 7 p.m. in Parking Lot A, just across McCovey Cove. (Live entertainment and food/drink specials will be available for purchase during the pregame party, with proceeds partially benefiting local charitable programs in the Jewish community.)

The $50 event package includes:
- All of the above, plus one of our CBS community spirit t-shirts! (See front and back of shirt below. Click on the image to see a larger view.)
Facebook_SFGiantsPromo

ORDER YOUR TICKET(S) BELOW. (Alternatively, you can drop off cash or check in the CBS office. If drop off payment, please email Beth Jones, or call 415.940.7092, to let us know what size t-shirts you would like to reserve. Sizes available are Adult M, L, and XL and Youth XS, S, M, L, and XL.)

Shelach Lecha -- Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

Facebook_CoverDesign_ShelachLecha"Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you are being watched and recorded."

This remark by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) subcontractor who made headlines in 2013 when he leaked top secret information about NSA surveillance activities, is indeed curious – and it has theological implications. In a wired, connected world in which almost everything we do is monitored, how does the Torah’s understanding of espionage strike us?

Espionage is a form of reconnoitering and a test of emunah — of one’s steadfast trust and conviction. As the 12 spies head out on their mission, they think they know what awaits them and so do the people that sent them. 40 days later, these spies return carrying produce from the land, including a cluster of grapes, a pomegranate, and a fig along with a report of the land’s bountifulness. 10 of the spies also warn the Israelites that the giant inhabitants are overpowering. Only Joshua and Caleb dissent, claiming the land can be conquered.

As the Israelites weep, yearning to return to Egypt, the divine decree emerges that they must enter the Promised Land by way of a circuitous route — by way of a forty-year trek through the desert. This period of journeying will allow time enough for the remorseful population to die out, making space for a new generation to emerge, one that will be more open to entering into a meaningful relationship of responsibility with the land divinely granted to them.

Parashat Shelach Lecha also includes legislation regarding the offerings of meal, wine, and oil, as well as laws pertaining to challah and the ritual fringes known as tzitzit that are on any four-cornered garment.

The possibility of knowing (and appreciating) a strong sense of omnipresence of the divine in our lives – that "we are being watched and recorded" – can be constructive if we see it as a spiritual opportunity, a way for us to see our actions honestly and ensure that they have lasting meaning.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's illustration shows forty tally (or hash) marks stylized as linen-wrapped corpses. Inspired by Numbers 14:32-34 – "But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this desert...According to the number of days which you toured the Land forty days, a day for each year, you will [thus] bear your iniquities for forty years; thus you will come to know My alienation." – this is the count of an anthropomorphized, aggrieved, and estranged G-d. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Zoe & Hana Jaeger Skigen's B'not Mitzvah

Facebook_HanaZoeSkigenShalom. Our names are Zoe and Hana Jaeger Skigen. We are twelve-year-old twins and we just finished Grade 7 at the Synergy School in San Francisco's Mission District, where we also live.

This Shabbat, June 17, we will become b’not mitzvah. We have spent our entire lives doing meaningful things together and the process of preparing to become b’not mitzvah has been one of the highlights. We have been members of Beth Sholom since we were born; we attended "Mommy and Me" and Tot Shabbat programs in addition to the CBS Family Preschool and Shabbat School (religious school). Beth Sholom is literally a "house of peace" for us and our second Jewish home. We are still best friends with the children we met at Beth Sholom from our infancy.

In this week’s parsha, Parashat Shelach Lecha, we learn that Moses sends twelve spies to the land of Canaan as authorized by God. When they return, they bring back incredible things, like enormous grapes, as well as seemingly bad news. Ten of the spies report that the people of the land are unconquerable – that Canaan is filled with giants. Many of the Israelite people panic and want to return to Egypt. As a havruta (learning in pairs), we had lengthy conversations about how and why such conflicting perspectives could emerge about the same land. The process has been both intellectually and spiritually moving for both of us.

I (Zoe) enjoy playing trumpet in a city-wide orchestra and school band. I like all things musical and especially like to teach myself to play new instruments. I am active member of the Gay/Straight Alliance at school and I play on the school basketball team. In my free time, I make videos, arrange music, and I am passionate about tikkun olam and activism. In the summers, I enjoy going to Habonim Dror Camp Gilboa. For my mitzvah project, I taught formerly-imprisoned, mentally ill adults cooking classes.

I (Hana) am on the student council at school, in the school choir, and play on the school futsal, basketball, and cross country teams. I am a proud feminist and activist and I am also a member of the Gay/Straight Alliance. I also have a deep affinity for animals and am an avid reader. I play ukulele and in my free time I enjoy writing songs. For my mitzvah project, I performed a concert at the Jewish Home for the Aged. This is particularly meaningful to me because this is where my great grandmother, Bea, lived and died. Camp Gilboa is a special place in the summer for me as well.

We want to thank our mother and father for supporting us and gently pushing us through the process of becoming b’not mitzvah. We also want to thank our Baba and Savta and our Bubbie, Susan Jaeger, for helping us to develop our Jewish identity. A special thank you to Noa Bar, our tutor, and to Rabbi Glazer for teaching us how to stick with such a large task and the importance of Torah. Most importantly, we would like to thank each other. Having a twin sister always makes life a little easier and we always feel a little safer in the world knowing we have each other.

We are so elated to together share this life cycle event along with our friends and family who are traveling from near and far to witness this simcha!

Shelach Lecha -- Numbers 13:1 - 15:41

Facebook_CoverDesign_ShelachIn his renowned treatise, The Art of War, Chinese philosopher, Sun Tzu (544 BCE - 496 BCE) remarks:

"It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to conduct espionage against you and to bribe them to serve you. Give them instructions and care for them. Thus doubled agents are recruited and used."

How does Torah understand espionage?

Espionage is a form of reconnoitering and a test of emunah — of one’s steadfast trust and conviction. As the 12 spies head out on their mission, they think they know what awaits them and so do the people that sent them. 40 days later, these spies return carrying produce from the land, including a cluster of grapes, a pomegranate, and a fig along with a report of the land’s bountifulness. 10 of the spies also warn the Israelites that the giant inhabitants are overpowering. Only Joshua and Caleb dissent, claiming the land can be conquered.

As the Israelites weep, yearning to return to Egypt, the divine decree emerges that they must enter the Promised Land by way of a circuitous route — by way of a forty year trek through the desert. This period of journeying will allow time enough for the remorseful population to die out, making space for a new generation to emerge, one that will be more open to entering into a meaningful relationship of responsibility with the land divinely granted to them.

Parashat Shelach Lecha also includes legislation regarding the offerings of meal, wine, and oil, as well laws pertaining to challah and the ritual fringes known as tzizit that are on any four-cornered garment.

The possibility of knowing (and appreciating) again things we have come to take for granted is a spiritual opportunity, a chance to make lasting and meaningful connections.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork is a graphic representation of the eroded self-esteem of 10 of the 12 Israelite spies who reconnoitered Canaan. "There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, descended from the giants. In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes." (Numbers 13:33) To the right of the 10 grasshoppers are two pillars representing Joshua and Caleb; these can also be seen as a sideways equals sign, a riff on the fact that Joshua and Caleb viewed themselves (and the rest of the Israelites) as equal to the task. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

We're Going To The Ball Game!

Facebook_HeritageNightTShirt_FrontIt's that time of the year again! CBS invites you to join your fellow congregants and other members of the Bay Area Jewish community for San Francisco Giants Jewish Heritage Night on Tuesday, August 30. This annual celebration of Jewish identity and heritage is always a home run of fun, but this year is going to be extra special!

Our beloved Giants will be taking on some Southwestern serpents (a.k.a., the Arizona Diamondbacks) in a divisional game. Instead of nosebleed seats, we have reserved a block of amazing, Club Level seats! What's so great about Club Level? Just behind these seats is an open area with a wide variety of restaurants, food stands, and bars. (Some of this area is enclosed; if you get chilly, you can go inside to warm up.) There's also a Giants Museum with a variety of memorabilia on display. The museum and food-bar area are only accessible from the Club, Field Club, and luxury seat areas, which reduces the likelihood of a food or beverage run mob scene.

This year, we're also offering two ticket packages.

The $65 event package includes:
- 1 seat in the CBS section (Club Level 230) for the game (begins at 7:15 p.m.)
- A collector's-edition, Jewish-themed Giants hat
- Admission to the Jewish Heritage Night Pregame Party, 5 - 7 p.m. on Terry Francois Boulevard. (Live entertainment and food/drink specials will be available for purchase during the pregame party, with proceeds partially benefiting local charitable programs in the Jewish community.)

The $80 event package includes:
- All of the above, plus one of our CBS Jewish Heritage Night t-shirts! (See front and back of shirt below. You can click on the image to see a larger view.)
Facebook_FrontBackMockUp_HeritageNight_TShirt CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR TICKET(S) ONLINE. (Alternatively, you can drop off cash or check in the CBS office.)

Whether you order online or drop off payment, please email Christopher Orev Reiger, or call 415.940.7099, to let us know what size t-shirts you would like to reserve or if you have any questions. Sizes available are XS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL.

Aidan Swan's Bar Mitzvah

DSC_0111Hello, my name is Aidan Swan. I am a seventh grader at the Brandeis School of San Francisco. I enjoy sports, and my favorites are basketball, baseball, golf, and rock climbing. I also like to watch the Warriors and Giants, hang out with my friends, and travel. I am very excited that this Shabbat is my bar mitzvah and my parsha is Ki Tissa. I’m looking forward to sharing this day with friends, family, and members of the congregation.

My portion is filled with mistakes and lessons. Moses goes up Mount Sinai to talk to G-d and, while he is gone, the people make a golden calf to worship. When Moses comes back and sees what has happened, he is so angry that he smashes the tablets G-d has just presented him with. So much more happens, but you'll need to come on Saturday if you want to hear about it!

I have loved studying for my bar mitzvah. Thank you to Rabbi Glazer for being a great help in understanding my parsha and helping me write my drash. Thank you to my amazing tutor, Batshir, who helped me learn my haftarah and Torah portions and made studying a great experience. Thank you to my family for being there every step of the way, and for always supporting me and encouraging me.