Times: Happy New Year from the JBD team. Shabbat starts tonight with candle lighting at 8.25pm, and ends Saturday night at 9:28pm. The weekly Torah portion is Parshat Beshalach. Tu BiShvat is on Monday 21st January.

Mincha in the CBD: Mincha will return in February.

Study: The Wednesday shiur and lunch will return after the summer break on 6 February.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Geoff Bloch. This week’s Torah reading is Parshat Beshalach. There are two types of people in the world: “doers,” who step forward, prepared to tackle a task, and “followers”, who wait until others have blazed a trail.

When the Jews were encamped at the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit, they could not turn back. They could only go forward into the sea. We know how that crisis was resolved, but the scripture is interesting. “The Children of Israel came within the sea on dry land…” (Exodus 14,22), then a few verses later we read: “The Children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea…”. (Exodus 14.29). Note the reversal of the order or sequence.

The commentator Kli Yakar explains: The first verse refers to the few who plunged into the sea. They were the doers after whose bold action God parted the sea. Then the rest of the Jews marched in – the followers. The lesson is clear: If we cry out for divine help in a crisis we cannot stand idly by but must also act. God endorses this approach when he spoke to Moshe as the Jews were trapped between the sea and the Egyptians: “…Why do you cry out to me? Speak to Children of Israel and let them go forth (into the sea)…” (Exodus 14.15). Fear and prayer are thus not the Jewish reaction to crisis, unless coupled with an attempt to do what we can on our own. Hence the axiom: “God helps those who help themselves.”

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