Friday, February 24, 2012

Terumah: Opening to receive God's offerings

Terumah Exodus 25:2 – "from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity, you shall take My offering..’    

Usually we read this verse as instructing us about something that we humans offer to God.  However, the language (terumahti) clearly says that  God is offering us something - something that can be taken from the inspired and generous heart. And what is it that God offers us when we are open-hearted?  Open-heartedness brings a sense of connection, a feeling of safety, and an overwhelming gratitude for having something to be able to give. Generosity begets gratitude, a gratitude we ourselves feel (rather than the gratitude of whomever has been the recipient of our generosity). This gratitude further softens our heart and inspires us to greater opening, creating a flow of connection so that we become aware of the beauty and preciousness of the incredible mishkan of the Universe in which we live.

May we be moved to act generously toward ourselves and others. And may we discern, in the fruits of that generosity, the richness of life that God continually offers us.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yitro: Delegating to foster peace

Yitro: Exodus 18:13-14, 18, 23 – “And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood about Moses from the morning unto the evening.  And when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said: ‘What is this thing that you do to the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand about you from morning to night? .  .  .  . You will surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with you, for the thing is too heavy for you; you are not able to perform it yourself alone.  .  .  .  If you will do this thing, and God command you so, then you shall be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace.’    

Yitro wisely advised Moses to delegate his authority over the people to “rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.”  How often do we with best of intentions take on more obligations than we can wisely fulfill in relation to ourselves and others?
May we be blessed to heed the advice of Yitro, sharing our responsibilities, so that we endure and those we encounter go in peace.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Beshalach: Escorting each other through the wilderness

Parshat Beshalach: Exodus 13:17 – “Now when Pharaoh sent away the people, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, “The people may have a change of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt.”  

The Talmud teaches (Sotah 46b): [R. Joshua b. Levi said:] “One who is traveling on the path without an escort (leveayah) should engage in Torah . . . (Prov. 1:9)].” Etz chayim hi lamachazikim ba.  She is a tree of life to all who hold fast to her.  When we walk along the way, it is important to have an escort, friends, a holy community.  This community need not be near, but it must be close to our hearts. 

May we be blessed to be wise and caring escorts for each other as we travel through the wilderness.