Congregation Beit Shalom

A 100% VirJEWal Synagogue serving the needs of all backgrounds of the Jewish Community of
Monroe Township, NJ since 1983

Eli B. Perlman, Rabbi

Who is Congregation Beit Shalom?

Congregation Beit Shalom / Monroe Township is a unique Conservative Egalitarian Congregation. The difference between this and other congregations is that we are truly a family. We get together to pray, to learn, to laugh, to sing, to schmooze - and it is 100% VirJEWal. When someone is in need, we help each other in ways that continue to inspire everyone.

To attend VirJEWal Religious Services
Every Shabbat and Yom Tov Morning at
9:30 am Eastern Time

Annual Selection:
Naso: Num. 4.21-7.89.
Judges 13.2-25.

Hold on to your wits. This is the longest single Sidra of our 54 Torah readings. One of the things we like about it is that it contains the Tri-Partite Blessing, “Ye’va’rech-e-cha”, which was pronounced by the Priests upon the nation of Israel. Today it is pronounced by the Hazzan during the repetition of the Amida.

Today’s Sidra picks up where Bamidbar left off, detailing the counting of the families within the tribe of Levi. Gershon, Kehat, and Merari each had specific duties within the Tabernacle and its transport through the desert. The idea behind this is that a camp that is orderly and stable is one that is more receptive to the Divine and vice versa. It is for this reason that the Jews are enjoined to remove the spiritually “unclean” from their midst. The explanation of the trial by ordeal of the Sotah (accused adulterous) points up Moses’ efforts to keep his nation cohesive and holy against all odds.

The laws of the Nazir1 teach us that separating ourselves from the community in order to achieve holiness may be fine in theory, but not the right thing to do. While the institutions of the Nazir and the Sotah disappeared from Jewish practice by the end of the 1st Century, C.E., asceticism2 and trial by ordeal were strongly entrenched in European religion and civilization for at least another 1500 years!

Getting back to our reading, we learn that for the dedication of the altar and the holy portions of the Tabernacle, the Princes of each tribe are to deliver an offering. By consensus, each of the twelve offerings were identical so that no tribe would be carried by pride to become extravagant at the expense of the other tribes. Their singleness of purpose and dedication to equality among the tribes was truly in evidence here and must be admired. This is a lesson we could all learn.

Simply recall how we and our families threw those extravagant B’nai Mitzvah and Wedding galas. Because of how everyone else did it, affordability was never considered. Looking back, was it really worth it? It is clear that the tribes were right! In our relationship with G-d, simple is good – very good, indeed.

1 An ascetic person is one who renounces material comforts and leads a life of austere self-discipline, especially as an act of religious devotion
2 The doctrine that the ascetic life releases the soul from bondage to the body and permits union with the divine 

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