Pulling a Toobin in St. Louis Park

I attended the public forum of the candidates running in the DFL primary held in August 2018 at Beth El Synagogue and have referred to it a number of times in writing about Ilhan Omar, as in my “Open letter to Scott Gillespie.” (Gillespie is in charge of the opinion side of the Star Tribune.)

Today Beth El Synagogue makes it into the New York Post in Jon Levine’s story “Sabbath service derails after couple begins having sex on Zoom.” Levine refers to the synagogue as Temple Beth El, which is a little off, and to the activity captured on Zoom during Shabbat services as a mitzvah, which he renders colloquially as “good deed.”

As it happens, I study weekly on Fridays over lunch in St. Louis Park a couple of blocks from Beth El Synagogue. Only yesterday our teacher instructed us that a “mitzvah” is a commandment, not a good deed, although mitzvahs are also frequently good deeds as well. The Jewish sage Maimonides counted 613 commandments. They are enumerated here.

Just to bring the concept of “mitzvah” home, I would add this footnote. The Toobination in our midst has been the talk of the congregation over the past couple of weeks. Such talk can fall under the mitzvah proscribing lashon hara (more here). If laughter is the best medicine it may nevertheless be a good deed.

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