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


Simons Says, January 29, 2021

In this week’s Torah portion, B’shelach, the Israelites cross the Sea of Reeds.  In chapter 14, verse 22, the Torah says, 

וַיָּבֹ֧אוּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל בְּת֥וֹךְ הַיָּ֖ם בַּיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה וְהַמַּ֤יִם לָהֶם֙ חוֹמָ֔ה מִֽימִינָ֖ם וּמִשְּׂמֹאלָֽם 

“The children of Israel came between the waters on dry land, and the water to them was a wall from right and from left.” 

There are many ways to say wall in Hebrew:  kir (a wall in a building), kotel (especially, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount), gadir (a hedgerow), m’hitzah (the thing that separates men from women in an Orthodox synagogue), p’sis ha-lazvezet (gunwale of a ship), dofen (partition), and secher (dam), but chomah means a wall around a city; a city wall.

The Torah tells that the Children of Israel were protected by a city wall, and what city do you immediately think of?  Jerusalem.  The Torah telegraphs that Jerusalem would be the city that would protect the Children of Israel like the walls of water when they crossed the Sea of Reeds.

We build walls around ourselves to protect us from physical things and emotional things.  Some walls are building walls, some walls are dams, some walls are partitions, and some walls are city walls. 

We have to assess the dangers for which we build walls to protect us.  Some of them are not dangers at all, but we don’t like to confront them.  Some of them are dangerous, but maybe a weaker wall would suffice.  Some of them are very dangerous, and a city wall will be the best possible defense.

The Midrash says that when the Children of Israel were on the bank of the Sea of Reeds, Moses stretched out his staff, but the sea didn’t part.  Nachshon waded into the sea and the sea still didn’t part.  The waters first reached his knees, then his waist, but he kept going.  The waters reached his neck, and then the waters parted.  You need to confront your fears, and build the appropriate wall to protect.