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October 05, 1990 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-10-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

!TORAH PORTION

Please Join Us for a Round Table Discussion
on the New Germany
Current Issues . . . and Implications for Europe
and the World
Monday, October 15, 1990 7:45 p.m.
McGregor Memorial Conference Center
Wayne State University
Round Table Participants:

Mr. Keith Braun, 1990 Konrad Adenaur
Program
Exchange
Foundation/AJC
Participant. Attorney, Honigman Miller Schwartz
Cohn.
Dr. Guy Stern, Professor, German and Slavic
Languages and Literatures Department, Wayne
State University.
Mr. Peter A. Beerwerth, Deputy Consul, Con-
sul General of the Federal Republic of Germany.

No Admission Charge

R.S.V.P. by October 12

Hosted by: The American Jewish Committee, Detroit Chapter
The German Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany
The Department of Political Science
The Department of Germany and Slavic Languages and Literatures
Wayne State University

Congratulations

NINA ROSENBLUM

Oriental Rugs
Today's Pleasure
Tomorrow's Treasure

251 Merrill
Birmingham
(313) 644-7311

On your drawing chosen at the Hillel-Sinai Hospital
Art Show. Nina's artwork was used for the cover of
Sinai Hospital's Jewish New Year Cards.
We're so proud of you!
Love, Mom, Danny, Marshmallow, Grandma G Grandpa Friedman,
Uncle Michael & Auntie Pam, Zachary & Jacob, and Uncle Bobby G Jill.

'-it=sgo

MAH JONG TOURNAMENT

Tuesday, October 23, 7:00 p.m.

Congregation Beth Abraham
Hillel Moses
5075 W. Maple, W. Bloomfield

DOOR PRIZES & CASH PRIZES
REFRESHMENTS
$10.00 Per Person

FOR RESERVATIONS CALL:
MARLENE SOMBERG 553-0442
ROCHELLE ZABEL 851.7621

56

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1990

BRING YOUR SETS
AND PLAYING CARDS
Tickets at door

2915 Breton
Grand Rapids
(1400 622 RUGS)

-

-

181 S. Woodward Ave.
Birmingham, MI 48009

642-1690

Peace
in the
New Year

LIBRARY BOOKSTORE

M. Sempliner

We are winning.

CANCER
SOCIETY'

The Immense Knowledge
Found In Ecclesiastes

RABBI RICHARD HERTZ

Special to The Jewish News

ewish tradition has it
that the book of Ecclesi-
astes is to be read in the
synagogue during Sukkot.
Why? This week is a holiday
that celebrates the goodness
of the earth, its beautiful
fruits and riches harvested by
man. We should praise God
for the bounties he has
bestowed upon us. So why a
book of cynicism and despair
like Ecclesiastes?
Ecclesiastes begins by ex-
tolling vanity. Is this the
right message to give to peo-
ple just one week after the lof-
ty spiritual ecstasy of the
High Holidays? That doesn't
make sense. Or does it?
Perhaps the rabbis of old, in
ordaining that Ecclesiastes be
read on Sukkot, had some-
thing more sobering in mind.
The book itself is one of the
supremely questioning works
in the world's literature.
Pessimism, despair and doubt
are blended in the author's
dim view of life. Who was the
author?
Tradition attributes the
work to Solomon, but scholars
know that attributing a work
to some famous ancestor had
become a familiar literary
device to give authority to a
book. Ecclesiastes was prob-
ably composed and edited
around 250 B.C.E., when
Greek philosophy had inun-
dated Jerusalem and Jewish
intellectuals had to wrestle
with the pessimissm of Greek
thought.
The Septugint, the Greek
translation of the Holy Scrip-
tures, called the Hebrew
name of the book Ecclesi-
astes, in Greek meaning,
"The Man of the Congrega-
tion." Hence, in English, the
author is sometimes called
"the preacher?'
Kohelet, the Preacher, in
whose name these words are
placed, probed the mystery of
life. Kohelet doesn't think
more wealth or more material
things lead to happiness. Peo-
ple must recognize the
cyclical order of nature. "For
everything there is a season
and a time for every matter
under heaven?'
Like Job, Kohelet asks if
virtue and evil find their just
reward. Like Job, Kohelet
answers, No! Yet, unlike Job,
Kohelet does not wallow in
his suffering. He is a nay-
sayer who controls himself

j

965-3353

I

Richard Hertz is rabbi
emeritus of Temple Beth El.

and others by eeking out the
limited joys on earth —
wisdom for sane living,
sobriety rather than sensuali-
ty. He teaches practical
wisdom for men immersed in
the ceaseless pursuits of
worldliness. His book is like
a loose-leaf notebook of reflec-
tions as he contemplates
man's vain striving in a world
of mystery and vanity.
Since everything is deter-
mined by God, Kohelet chafes
under man's limitations. Life
seems so vain, so futile. Man
sees that mere wisdom does
not lead to happiness. Why,
then, spend one's energy in
heaping up treasures that
will never be enjoyed?
So what endures? He who
loves money will never be

First Day,
Chol HaMoed
Sukkot

satisfied. Fame and riches
and pleasures can not be
quenched. Man's desires are
infinite, never to be fully
achieved.
And when we die? We take
nothing with us. Naked we
came into life, and naked we
leave life.
Kohelet has left us his
notebook of rich nuggets in
which he has jotted down his
reflections. There is no logical
progression in the book but a
random collection of proverbs
in prose or verse, couched in
rhythmic parallelism typical
of biblical literature.
The book reminds one of a
wise person who kept a diary
of all his life. After the man
died, his diary was discovered.
Not only do the entries seem
to skip around from subject to
subject, but the outlook is not
always the same. Sometimes
he appears even to contradict
himself. Many of the
thoughts are private and per-
sonal, reflecting his own
failures and heartaches in
life.
Kohelet reminds us we are
not all we think we are. He
humbles us. He puts in
perspective the values of life.
He is like the man who goes
around seeking the purpose of
life yet laments his own ig-
norance. His notebooks are a
record of his wandering and
the peace he finally attained.
Reading Kohelet at Sukkot
makes us realize how grateful
we should be for God's boun-
ty. Kohelet was not indif-
ferent to man's suffering or
the inequalities of life, but ac-

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