The “words” in which the Jewish religion subscribes to, which come from YHWH (in Hebrew scriptures, it is too sacred to pronounce the word “Lord” so only consonants are used) to Moses, are found in the Talmud and Torah. For those of us who are not Jewish, it can be hard to decipher the differences between the two. To put it simply, the Talmud contains the historical account of the Jewish religion including its laws and convictions. Sometimes referred to as the “Oral Torah”, it explains the essence of the written texts, thereby shining light on how to apply to everyday life.
The written texts are located in the Torah (which is the Hebrew word for instruction), also known as the Pentateuch. It is considered the Hebrew Bible because it harbors the 613 commandments. It is mostly understood as the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Christians refer to it as the Old Testament. However, in the Jewish religion, there is not a New Testament so “old testament” has no significant meaning.
Found in the 613 commandments, is verbiage that is part of the connecting string which ties “our” religions together, here in Charlotte, and around the world (as mentioned in the prior article). It exists in the following sacred phrasings:
-Not to reap the entire field (Lev 19:9, 23:22)
-To leave the unreaped corner of the field or orchard for the poor (Lev. 19:10)
-Not to refrain from maintaining a poor man and giving him what he needs (Deut. 15:7)
-To give charity according to one’s means (Deut. 15:11)
*(These are just a few, there are many more)
We can see these particular commandments being adhered to in many Jewish synagogues. Let’s look at a synagogue, here in Charlotte, and observe how it is following its sacred text…
Temple Beth El, located at 5101 Providence Road, is working hand-in-hand with an effort introduced by the Mayor of Charlotte, Anthony Foxx, in which he deemed 2012, “The Year of Our Neighbors.” SolveThePuzzleCharlotte.org is an initiative created in a partnership of Temple Beth El, led by Rabbi Judy Schindler (recently honored as the 57th Charlotte Woman of the Year), together with Urban Ministry Center, and other local organizations. Rabbi Schindler was inspired by the mayor’s idea and decided to place Beth El in a leadership role to guide her congregation (as well as other congregations in the community) in helping solve the crisis of homelessness. The Rabbi realized the complexities involved in dealing with the issue and believed that in order to find a solution, each detail must be addressed; each puzzle piece accounted for in this challenging puzzle.
Judy Seldin-Cohen, a lay leader at Temple Beth El, commented that the premise of SolveThePuzzleCharlotte.org is, “If each person or each congregation picks-up one more piece of the puzzle of homelessness, we can solve this puzzle together.” Next month, Beth El is hosting a workshop for its members where there will be a viewing of “Souls of our Neighbors,” a documentary produced by Crossroads Charlotte, Mecklenburg Ministries, and Temple Beth El which addresses fears and facts of affordable housing in the Charlotte area. Included in the workshop is a presentation on how people of all ages can get involved. Ms. Seldin-Cohen encourages other congregations or individuals who are interested to go to soulsofourneighbors.com to order a copy of the documentary, download the facilitator’s guide, or to just get more informed.
Websites you can go to for more information: