- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On March 20, 2020
- 0 Comments
We end the book of Exodus at the moment when the Israelites were instructed to channel their desire to build, not an idol, but the Mishkan, the travelling sanctuary. Our ancestors may have thought it was ridiculous to build a structure to lug across the wilderness to a place, known only from the mythic tales of ancestors. Could the former slaves assemble a structure commanded by a god they could not see, but whose presence they would come to know somehow, someway? The Mishkan would have to be their teacher for its purpose was to allow the Divine presence to dwell among them. Without much experience to draw upon, this they knew or would come to know: encountering the sacred supported them and provided them with spiritual strength.
At each stop along their way through the wilderness, the people assembled the parts to form the Mishkan. When they departed one place to move to the next, they had to disassemble it. So, says the Midrash. Assemble/disassemble. Build/
Each time, they had to figure it out.
Some times all the pieces fit into place.
Some times, they had to work harder to assemble it.
As they moved, the tribes surrounded the Mishkan on all four sides. If a community can be viewed as a physical entity, then the mishkan was its soul. Just as God breathed life into the human being, thus inextricably linking God to us, so did God’s presence move with and through the Mishkan. It might seem strange then to assemble and reassemble a soul in this influential journey of our people. It was part of the lesson.
Their sacred work continued at each stop along the way.
The community had to work together to reconstruct their communal soul, again and again.
Such is the narrative of the Jewish people and Judaism. We have survived and thrived by our ability to take apart and rebuilt, to work together to reconstruct the very soul of our existence.
We are in a moment of grand transformation. As a colleague recently reminded me, Judaism and Jewish life has existed as a portable and movable expression of existence. This is how we know we will emerge stronger, more nimble, and even more thoughtful and wise.
No matter what:
Our prayers still rise together;
Our study of the same texts across the globe perpetually connect us to diverse communities;
Our celebration of Shabbat when we light the candles illuminates the whole universe from the past into the future;
And, our vision of tikkun ha’olam, of repair, ripples out into eternity.
And yet, we remain in a perpetual transformation fueled by the divine moving with us, through us, and among us, the source of our spiritual strength. Re-building. Re-forming. Re-assembling.
As we each remain in the sanctuary of our homes, at times we may feel disconnected and disjointed, but what remained true in the past is still true now: we are engaged in a transformation of our lives and of the community of the Jewish people still unfolding in this mysterious trek across the wilderness of the unknown.
Let’s join together at 6:00 p.m. for Qabbalat Shabbat HERE.
Rashi families gather for Shabbat at 4:00 p.m. HERE.
Village, Preschool, Sandbox, and FJECC celebrate Shabbat at 5:00 p.m. HERE.
Experience Torah Study and the Shabbat Services before it on Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. HERE.
The Clergy invite you to Havdalah and Cocktail/Mocktails Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. HERE
How are you doing? Connect with me HERE.