Times: Shabbat starts tonight with candle lighting at 5:40pm, and ends Saturday night at 6:38pm. The weekly Torah portion is Ki Tavo.

Mincha in the CBD: Whisky and Kugel Fridays is on today at 1.00pm using the SMS system to confirm numbers. Mincha (Mon-Fri) continues next week at 1.00pm with the SMS reminder.

Study: The Wednesday shiur & lunch continues this week at Billing Bureau, following 1.00pm mincha. This week’s shiur will be given by Rabbi Yonason Johnson on the topic “Apples and honey. A cute custom or a deep Kabbalistic allusion?”

Thought of the Week with thanks to Geoff Bloch. This week’s Torah reading Ki Tavo contains the five sentence formula uttered by the ancient Jewish farmer when bringing the bikurim (the first fruits) to the Bet Hamikdash.

It commences “Arami Oved Avi vayered mitzrayma” and ends with the words “Vayvieihu el hamakom hazeh vayiten lanu et haaretz hazot eretz zavat chalav u’dvash.” We recognise this as the potted history of the Jewish people which we expand upon on Seder night when we undertake the mitzvah vehigadta l’vincha – the obligation to recite the story of the Exodus to our children.

The Torah is a narrative in the third person, but this is one of the only passages in Scripture, other than quoted conversation, written in the first person.

Some years ago Rabbi Kennard gave a shiur in which he suggested that this may be a reason why this formula takes centre stage on Seder night. We are not simply reciting an historical narrative of events long ago but are recreating the Exodus in the first person to demonstrate that we, too, are part of a continuing living history.

The formula records two sorts of journey. The first is the physical journey by our forefathers from Canaan down to Egypt and by Bnei Yisrael from Egypt to Israel.

But as the High Holydays now approach, perhaps it is timely for us to reflect on the second sort of journey – our spiritual journey from slavery to freedom. It is time to focus less on the secular obligations and commitments which enslave us and focus more on exercising our freedom to draw nearer to God.

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