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Rabbi’s Update 3/1/2024

Dear Friends:


Last night our “Understanding the Siddur” class started our study of the Shema -- by which we mean the entire three paragraphs which appear in our evening and morning services, not just the one line generally translated as “Hear O Israel, Adonai is Our God, Adonai is One.” We spent almost an hour on that line and came up with a number of different explanations as to what it actually means.


When we are getting ready to say the Shema, I often have a brief flashback to my childhood Reform temple. The Rabbi, looking very regal in his black clergy robe and narrow fitted tallit, would call on the congregation to rise together and recite “The Watchword of Our Faith.” My younger brother for a long time thought that Rabbi Wiener was calling the Shema “The Washword of Our Face”, which at least also made sense.


Last night we also briefly -- because we ran out of time -- began discussing the paragraph generally known as the “Ve’ahavta” which begins with the commandment to “love Adonai your God.” Most of us think of love as a feeling or emotion which raises the question how the Torah can command us to have a certain emotion. Commanding actions is one thing, but is it really reasonable to command an emotion?


If you want to watch last night’s class, it is available here.


As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.


As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at rabbi@kehilatshalom.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by. 

Additionally, if you know of a Kehilat Shalom congregant or another member of our Jewish community who could use a phone call, please let me know.


L’shalom,




Rabbi Charles L. Arian







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