Ahavas Sholom – an Historic Landmark and Sacred Space

Newark's Last Remaining Synagogue born of the Great European Migration at the turn of the 20th Century

145 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104
Phone: 973-485-2609 | Email: cahavassholom@optimum.net


Simon Says, May 28, 2021

Forgive me for repeating myself.  I don’t think I am repeating myself, but I have written the Simon Says column for almost ten years (maybe longer), and I couldn’t bear to bring the column I wrote about B’halotcha ten times.  Word Perfect had a function that was called “preview,” and Word does not have that function.  So here goes.

The Talmud says that a prohibition of sexual intercourse existed on Noah’s ark.  Ham, one of Noah’s sons, violated that directive.  As a consequence, his skin turned black and he is the ancestor of Black Africans.

For ages, white has been the color purity, and black has been the color of evil.  Black Africans were viewed as inferior, less than human.  For centuries, Black Africans were enslaved as a consequence.

The Torah portion this week contains the episode where Miriam and Aaron complained to each other about the preferential treatment that God reserved to Moses.  They also complained about Moses’ Cushite wife, a Black African.

God overheard their complaints, and he punished Miriam (that he did not punish Aaron on the spot is another d’var Torah) by afflicting her with a disease that turned her skin white.

Moses loved his Cushite wife (whether she was Zipporah or a second wife).  Her skin being black made no difference to Moses.  But Miriam was afflicted by a disease that turned her skin white.  A couple of years I read this episode (as we do every year), and it had a new meaning.  I thought, how could white, the color of sickness, be the superior color, and black, the color of love, be the inferior color?  In so many things, the world is upside-down.