Officers and Trustees
Steven Getzoff, President
Pam Doman-Petlick, Executive  Vice-President
Steven Wasserman, Treasurer
Beverly Kissel, Corresponding Secretary
Ronna Blau, Recording Secretary
Linda Borkow
Vicki Greif
Faye Kimerling
Steven Lillien
Dayle Michael
Esther Mildner
Yakov Peter

For More Information:

Sponsor Kiddush-
Esther Mildner
Pam Petlick
Programs-Barry Gold
High Holidays-Barry Gold
Services-Steve Wasserman
Interfaith Caring  Community- Karl Schapira, Alan Shapiro 
Social Action-
Bev Kissel
Lesley Levine
Women's Study Groups
Ronna Blau
Pam Petlick

Contact Us
Rosh Pinah
of the Rivertowns
:P.O. Box 27, Hastings-on-Hudson,
N.Y. 10706



...And All the Rest is Commentary

Rosh Hashonah 5772
D'rosh given by Faye Kimmerling

I was recently introduced to the concept of disruptive innovation. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations in the economy that fundamentally transform a sector by improving a product or service in unexpected ways. The advent of email, for example, unexpectedly reduced volume at the Postal Service by 6 billion pieces of mail. How many of our children only have cell phones or smart phones, a disruptive innovation that is still transforming the telecommunications industry? Real college degrees are now available by studying on line, without ever attending classes in person.

Disruptive innovation will often have characteristics that traditional customers may not want, at least initially.  The innovations will appear as cheaper, simpler and even with inferior quality.  But, a marginal or new segment will value the new technology or product.

If you are here today, consider yourself part of a disruptive innovation, a disruptive spiritual innovation. ...(continue)

40th Anniversary Yahrtzeit of Louis Warshaw
Eleazar ben Moishe, father of Bonnie Schapira
Shabbat service 6 Cheshvan 5770
by Bonnie Schapira

    My father was born in Brooklyn in 1906, the second youngest of nine siblings.  He was a star athlete in high school and at the age of 19, became a professional boxer against the wishes of his family.  He won 51 out of 61 fights but had to quit because his nose was repeatedly broken and he sustained dangerous head injuries.
    He eventually owned his own taxi.  My Dad was a deeply committed Jew and wore tefillin while praying every day. We belonged to an orthodox synagogue which my Mom refused to attend...(continue)


By Vicki Greif

February 19, 2005

In reading today's parsha, something caught my attention : The Priestly garments.

I was really struck by this and I'd like to share it with you.

We learn that sacral vestments to be worn by Aaron and his sons doing priestly service to God should include blue, purple and crimson yarns and fine linen - (Exodus 28:3-5). This was mentioned at least 4 times in Tetzaveh, lest we forget.

The High priest is to wear a long robe woven entirely of woolen thread (JPS Commentary on Exodus 28:31, Nahum Sarna,ed),

( Exodus 28:40): they also wear tunics, sashes and turbans for dignity and adornment. (Exodus 28:39): The tunic is the fringed tunic of fine linen, and the head dress, also of fine linen.

They are wearing linen and wool!

Last week's parsha, T'rumah, details the curtains of the Tabernacle. The fabrics covering the section of the tabernacle that contains the Holy of Holies also contain blue, purple and crimson yarns and fine linen (Exodus 26:1-6) . Rashi's commentary on this is: ...there are 4 kinds of material in each thread, one of linen and three of wool (and each thread was 6 fold).....these 4 kinds of material are twisted together (making 24 strands) forming the fabric.

Now let's talk about Jewish laws. They include Hukkim.* These are rationally inexplicable rules - we follow them, not because they make sense - but because they are opportunities to do God's will. It's only for the love of God that we follow them - a higher mitzvah.

One of them is the prohibition of Sha'atnez expressed in parashat Ki Tetzei: "Do not wear Sha'atnez -wool and linen together" Another term for this prohibition is Kil'ayim as expressed in parashat Kedoshim.

Hirsch says: Wearing clothing is one of the things that separates humans from animals. Sha-atnez teaches us to be holy in the way we dress.

Sha-atnez is a mixture, a garment made of linen and wool, a blending of vegetable and animal product.

Prohibitions on mixing categories is something the Torah forbids. It is a way of tampering with the divinely ordained order of creation.

Maimonides explained that the wearing of mixed garments was forbidden since heathen priests wore such garments (Guide to the Perplexed 3:37).

So we have a commandment which forbids Jews from wearing a mixture of wool and linen, and yet as we read in the Torah, the priests' garments and the fabrics in the tabernacle are made of wool and linen intricately intertwined as vividly described by Rashi.

So how do we explain that?

I read a commentary on Ki Tetzei in Etz Hayim which explains that this prohibition applies only to the laity. The priests, in their ministry, do wear garments of such mixtures and a priest who does not wear his garments is liable to the penalty of death, according to a commentary by Nehama Leibowitz. (Nehama Leibowitz on Exodus p.527). She also stated that Ramban compares the high priests' vestments to those worn, in those days, by royalty and quotes parallels from Joseph's coat of many colors. The function of these garments was to enhance the dignity and prestige of the wearer and his sacred office in the eyes of the people..

Josephus suggests that the reason for the prohibition was to keep the laity from wearing the official garb of the priests. (Etz Hayim p. 1118)

So now we know: It is permitted for priests to wear garments of mixed texture prescribed by the Torah when performing priestly service in the sanctuary (Yoma 69a). Other examples of the permitted mixing of linen and wool:

It is permitted to use sha'atnez shrouds for a corpse (Nid 61b).

Because of a general principle that positive precept overrides a negative precept, it is permitted to attach a blue woolen zizit to a linen garment (Men. 40a).

In addition to these explanations, let me share with you another compelling reason proposed by

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935) who was the first Chief Rabbi of Eretz Israel.

Rav Kook on Sha-atnez- A Glimpse into the Future

According to Rav Kook, it is not that these mitzvoth have no reason, or no reason that we can comprehend. Rather, they relate to a future reality different from our own. At that future time, the purpose of these decrees will become clear.

In other words, this type of mitzvah serves to morally prepare us for the future.

An important aspect of this future is the Cabalistic idea that with the elevation of the entire universe, the animals will also change. Animals will achieve a state similar to the current level of people. This belief plays a central role in Rav Kook's writings in many areas: vegetarianism, Termple offerings, and understanding decrees such as sha'atnez, and not eating milk and meat together.

Now going back to linen/wool, Rav Kook continues:

The use of linen from the flax plant does not raise any ethical dilemmas. But the use of wool necessitates a mild censure from the standpoint of absolute morality:

"Man, in his boundless egocentricity, approaches the poor cow and sheep. From one he seizes its milk, and from the other its fleece......There would be no impropriety in taking the wool were the sheep burdened by its load; but we remove the wool when its natural owner needs it! Intellectually, we recognize that this is theft, oppression of the weak at the hands of the strong."

(Otzarot HaRiia)

The moral offense applies primarily with regard to the sheep's future status.

In order to distinguish between these two fibers, and prepare us for the sensitivity towards animal welfare that we will need in future times, the Torah decreed that linen and wool should not be worn together. Utilization of the flax plant and manipulation of sheep are not-in absolute terms-morally equivalent.

(But) This applies when the wool is used for private consumption. But if the wool is designated for divine service - as in the High Priest's clothes- then the principle of "bechol me'odecha," serving God with all our might, all our possessions, takes force. Here, it is appropriate that from their own free will, the animals will contribute their part for the sake of the universe's spiritual elevation.

From this, I learn that certain commandments such as Hukkim which might not have a rational basis to us in our present life may yet have a significance at a higher level or in a more perfect world for which we all strive.

And one more thing, when we go home today and greet our pets - our fish, dogs, cats, rabbits, iguanas,.... remember that they, too, may play a part in Tikkun Olam.

Shabbat Shalom!!!!

* Other examples of Hukkim:

In K'Doshim, Leviticus 19:19: You shall not let your cattle mate with a different kind, (in Deut. 22:10, Ki Tetzei: You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together).

You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, You shall not put on cloth from a mixture of two kinds of material ( in Deut. 22:11: "Do not wear Sha'atnez - wool and linen together").




September 6, 2003

I really love this time of year, from mid-summer through early fall. It is a time of deep and powerful emotion, in part because of the reading of D’varim, the Book of Deuteronomy. I would like to look at this last book of the Torah in the contexts of both history and calendar, in the contexts of the Torah narrative, and of the time of year during which we read it:

By the end of the Book of Bamidbar, Numbers, the Israelites are at a real low point. They have suffered:

bulletThe fiasco of the spies
bulletA devastating military defeat
bulletThe revolt of Korach, Datan and Aviram
bulletA horrible plague
bulletThe death of Miriam
bulletThe death of Aaron
bulletThe proclamation that Moses, their great leader, the only leader they have known, will die in the wilderness and will not enter the Promised Land
bulletAnd in fact, the condemnation of the entire generation that left Egypt to die in the wilderness, and not to enter the Promised Land. Essentially, they have spent 39 years in exile!

How much lower can things get??

And then we begin the reading of D’varim:

The Israelites are camped, probably, on the eastern bank of the Jordan River.

Moses is preparing to die, and preparing his people, finally, for the fulfillment of the covenant of LaReshet: to inherit and possess the Land that was promised to them about 600 years before through Abraham:

Moses spends the last month of his life

bulletRecounting to the people their history
bulletReviewing with them the laws, statues and rules by which they are to live when they enter theLand.
bulletUrging, exhorting, pleading, cajoling and threatening the people to keep the Commandments
bulletAnd then, finally, blessing them

D’varim puts the Israelites on an ascent from tragedy to triumph, from despair to joy.

Bittersweet though it may be, knowing that Moses will not go with them, the Israelites look forward with anticipation, with hope - and probably with some trepidation - to the fulfillment of the covenant of LaReshet, of inheritance, of possession of the Land.

Does anyone see any parallel here to our experience at this time of the year?

We begin reading D’varim on the Shabbat before Tisha B’Av, which is the traditional date of the destruction of both Temples, and the culmination of a 3 week period which begins with Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, the 17th of Tammuz, the traditional date on which the Roman soldiers breached the walls of Jereusalem.

This 3 week period is marked by progressive signs of mourning: not cutting one’s hair, not performing weddings, or attending joyous celebrations, not drinking wine except on Shabbat, not buying or wearing new clothes, and finally, on Tisha B’Av, a full-day fast with the reading of Megilat Eicha, the Book of Lamentations.

How much lower can things get??

And then we begin our ascent from tragedy to triumph, from despair to joy, as we prepare for the fulfillment of the covenant of Kaparah, of atonement through T’shuvah, Slichah U’G’ulah, through repentence, forgiveness and redemption, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur:

bulletWe chant the beautiful Haftarot of Consolation over the 7 weeks from Tisha B’Av to Rosh Hashanah
bulletWhen the month of Elul begins, we recite Psalm 27 each morning and evening: Hashem ori v’yish’i, mimi ira - "the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear," which ends: kavei el hashem – "hope in the Lord"
bulletWe sound the Shofar each morning
bulletAnd throughout this time, we read D’varim. It would be powerful and moving at any time, but it is all the more so at this time of year.

The great message of D’varim is:

bulletKnow where you came from
bulletKnow who you are
bulletKnow who you need to be and what you need to do in order to fulfill the vision of Torah of a just and compassionate society, and the covenant of LaReshet, that we may live in the land and prosper

And this is also the message that we should keep in our mind in these weeks between Tisha B’Av and Rosh Hashanah.

The Israelites did not just march into the Promised Land, Moses prepared them to fulfill the covenant of LaReshet. And so we, too, must not just march into the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. We must prepare ourselves to fulfill the covenant of Kaparah. We must read D’varim. We must remember where we came from, who we are, who we need to be and what we need to do in order to fulfill the covenant of Kaparah, so that we, too, may look forward with anticipation, with hope – and perhaps with some trepidation –to the Yamim No’ra’im, the great and awesome days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Let us use our time wisely.

Shabbat Shalom.


Introduction to the Book of Vayikra -- by Gus Scheer
March 11, 2003

Next Board Meeting

Next Board meeting will be Tuesday, March 13 at 8:00 p.m. at the home of Bev Kissel.


Board of Trustees meetings are generally scheduled for the second Tuesday of the month.
Shabbat morning services
Our regular Shabbat morning services are held at 9:00AM at Temple Beth Shalom, 740 Broadway in Hastings in the large classroom on the lower level.  Because of Bar & Bat Mitzvahs taking place there simultaneously, PLEASE park on side streets and Broadway and NOT in the parking lot. THANKS!

Scheduled Dates

 On March 24 (changed from Feb 17), we will have a kiddush for all members who would like to celebrate, honor and/or commemorate any simchas (anniversaries, birthdays, other Shehechayanu moments) or Yahrzeits occurring during the first quarter of the year (1/31-3/31). If you would like us to mention your simcha or Yahrzeit, and/or would like to co-sponsor the kiddush, please contact us at We will be having a similar kiddush each quarter.


  Rosh Pinah is a member of:

Interfaith Caring Community
Rivertowns Jewish Consortium
Westchester Jewish Conference

"If you will it, it is no fairytale"
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904)

"If you build it. they will come"
Field of Dreams, 1989


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