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26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, NY 11023 (516) 487-6100                                                         Shabbat Announcements Va’etchanan 5779
         affection on you and choose you because you were more   sustained the love between God and a people. You hear the
         numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all  cadences of that love throughout the generations. It is
         peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you…(Deut. 7:7- there in the book of Psalms: “You, God, are my God,
         8)                                                   earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs
                                                              for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no
         To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest   water” (Ps. 63:1). It is there in Isaiah: “Though the
         heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set His   mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My
         affection on your ancestors and loved them, and He chose   unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of
         you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is   peace be removed” (Is. 54:10). It is there in the siddur, in
         today. (Deut. 10:14-15) The Lord your God would not listen   the blessing before the Shema: “You have loved us with
         to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you,   great love / with everlasting love.” It is there, passionately,
         because the Lord your God loves you. (Deut 23:5)
                                                              in the song, Yedid Nefesh, composed in the sixteenth
         The real question is how this vision is connected to the   century by Safed kabbalist Elazar Azikri. It remains there in
         legal, halakhic content of much of Devarim. On the one   the songs composed year after year in present-day Israel.
         hand we have this passionate declaration of love by God for  Whether they speak of God’s love for us or ours for Him,
         a people; on the other we have a detailed code of law   the love remains strong after 33 centuries. That is a long
         covering most aspects of life for individuals and the nation   time for love to last, and we believe it will do so forever.
         as a whole once it enters the land. Law and love are not   Could it have done so without the rituals, the 613
         two things that go obviously together. What has the one to   commands, that fill our days with reminders of God’s
         do with the other? That is what David Brooks’ remark   presence? I think not. Whenever Jews abandoned the life
         suggests: commitment is falling in love with something and   of the commands, within a few generations they lost their
         then building a structure of behavior around it to sustain   identity. Without the rituals, eventually love dies. With
         that love over time. Law, the mitzvoth, halakhah, is that   them, the glowing embers remain, and still have the power
         structure of behavior. Love is a passion, an emotion, a   to burst into flame. Not every day in a long and happy
         heightened state, a peak experience. But an emotional   marriage feels like a wedding, but even love grown old will
         state cannot be guaranteed forever. We wed in poetry but   still be strong, if the choreography of fond devotion, the
         we stay married in prose. Which is why we need laws,   ritual courtesies and kindnesses, are sustained. In the vast
         rituals, habits of deed. Rituals are the framework that keeps   literature of halakhah we find the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of
         love alive. I once knew a wonderfully happy married couple.   Jewish life, but not always the ‘why.’ The special place of
         The husband, with great devotion, brought his wife   Sefer Devarim in Judaism as a whole is that here, more
         breakfast in bed every morning. I am not entirely sure she   clearly than almost anywhere else, we find the ‘why.’
         needed or even wanted breakfast in bed every morning, but   Jewish law is the structure of behavior built around the
         she graciously accepted it because she knew it was the   love between God and His people, so that the love remains
         homage he wished to pay her, and it did indeed keep their   long after the first feelings of passion have grown old.
         love alive. After decades of marriage, they still seemed to   Hence the life-change idea: if you seek to make love
         be on their honeymoon.
                                                              undying, build around it a structure of rituals – small acts
         Without intending any precise comparison, that is what the   of kindness, little gestures of self-sacrifice for the sake of
         vast multiplicity of rituals in Judaism, many of them spelled  the beloved – and you will be rewarded with a quiet joy, an
         out in the book of Deuteronomy, actually achieved. They    inner light, that will last a lifetime.

                         Great Neck Yoetzet Halacha Lisa Septimus
                           Welcomes your questions about mikvah,
                       observance of taharat mishpacha (halacha relating
                       to married life) and women’s health, as it connects
                             to Jewish law. Reach out to her at:
                                  Phone: 516.415.1111
                              Great Neck Synagogue
                     26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck , NY 11023

                         Rabbi Dale Polakoff, Rabbi
                      Rabbi Ian Lichter, Assistant Rabbi
                    Dr. Ephraim Wolf, z”l, Rabbi Emeritus
                           Yitzy Spinner, Cantor
                    Eleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor Emeritus
                     Rabbi Sholom Jensen, Youth Director
                  Zehava & Dr. Michael Atlas, Youth Directors
                      Mark Twersky, Executive Director
                     Dr. James Frisch, Assistant Director
                          Erran Kagan, President
                   Harold Domnitch, Chairman of the Board
                  Lisa Septimus, Yoetzet Halacha 516-415-1111
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