Friday, February 25, 2011

Parsha Vayakhel - Giving from the heart

Parsha Vayakhel
Exodus 35:5. “Take ye from among you an offering (terumah) unto the Lord, whosoever is of willing heart, let him bring it, the Lord’s offering (terumat).  .  .  . ."  Exodus 35:21.  “And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and brought the Lord’s offering (terumat).  .  .  .”

Jewish tradition distinguishes between two types of generosity: terumah and tzedakah.  The first is the giving that comes spontaneously from the heart, from neither obligation nor guilt, but from a feeling – nedivut ha’lev - that stirs deep within.

May we be blessed to practice generosity and receive the gift of the presence of God dwelling among us.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parsha Ki Tisah - A God's eye view

Parsha Ki Tisah

Exodus 33:22-23. And it shall be that when My glory passes by, I will place you into the cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand, and you will see My back but My face shall not be seen."

Rabbi Jeff Roth suggests the following meditation: Imagine that you are Moses as Moses is looking at God’s back. You are looking in the direction that God is looking. You are not just looking at God but actually looking through God, and through God’s eyes. You are getting a “God’s eye view.” What do you see?

May we merit a glimpse of the world through God’s eyes.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Parsha T’tzaveh - Beyond the senses, into the blue

Parsha T’tzaveh

Exodus 28:33. And on its bottom hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson wool, on its bottom hem all around, and golden bells in their midst all around.

The very essence of pomegranate is its blazing, fiery, scarlet redness. It is deep red as a flower and as a ripe fruit. Breaking it open, its inner treasure of juicy seeds, nestled in the bitter white pulp of the enclosing membranes, sparkles with redness.
There is no blue in a pomegranate, inside or out. Why, then, do the instructions for the priest’s garments specify including blue wool to make the pomegranates for the hem of the priestly garment?   The obvious purpose of the bells and pomegranates is to awaken our attention and to lift us into heightened appreciation of kvod and tifereth, of honor and splendor. But the blue of the pomegranate goes even farther. It stokes our sense of wonder and our imagination. It asks us to imagine a world even more beautiful than the one we inhabit with our usual senses.

May we be inspired to risk moving beyond the known, into the realm of the ineffable. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Parshat Terumah - Giving from the heart

 Parshat Terumah – Ex. 25:2, 8 Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is so moved.  .  .  .  And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.”

God is everywhere and in everything.  Taking a closer look at the Hebrew, the word terumah, translated as gift, comes from the root meaning “to elevate.” The Hebrew, mikdash, translated as sanctuary, comes from the root kuf, daled, shin, which means holy.  The Hebrew for dwell comes from the root shin, kuf, nun, which indicates a moving dynamic presence, not tied to a fixed location.   What makes a place holy for us and how do we open ourselves to let God in?  

Let us dedicate our practice to giving from the heart, elevating our souls, and bringing the Holy into our lives.  

Inspired by Cantor Florence Friedman