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Parshat Mishpatim - Welcoming Hazzan Adam Frei

16/02/2023 09:12:23 AM


This week's Torah portion Mishpatim contains the first extensive law code in the Torah. The laws are prefaced by the opening words ' "These are the laws that you (Moses) will place before them." Rashi shares an ancient commentary on the language of "place before them." One should not merely memorize or recite the laws until one knows them fluently. Rather, one should understand the taste/reason for the laws, like a banquet table.

In his commentary, Rashi uses the word "Ta'am," which can be translated as taste or reason. Throughout the ages, we have a large literature called "Ta'amei Ha'Mitzvot - reasons for the commandments." The various reasons become a menu of different tastes. Jewish law and practice should be savored like one dining at a  banquet table. The Hebrew for banquet table, "Shulkhan Arukh," later becomes a term for a famous Code of Jewish Law in the sixteenth century.

Just as Jewish law and practice should be savored with fine taste, our davening experience should be savored as well and not treated robotically. This Shabbat, we welcome Cantor Adam Frei to our shul. He is a dear friend of mine. Hazzan Frei began his Cantorial career working with me in Long Island in the 1990's. Subsequently, he served at the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens, NY. Nowadays, he is the Cantor at Midway Jewish Center in Syosset, NY. Hazzan Frei will be our guest Cantor in residence this coming Shabbat, and he will join us for a Shabbat in late April and in late June.

I invite us all to physically attend shul this Shabbat, if possible, to experience a savory davening from a fine Cantor, whom I have known from the inception of his career.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Howard Morrison

Wed, 7 June 2023 18 Sivan 5783