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Parashah (portion) Vayakhel – Calling All Angels
Exodus 35:1 – 38:20

We are entering into the closing chapters of the Book of Exodus as the month of February and our focus on the midah/value of Service also conclude. This week’s Torah portion marks the beginning of the building of the Tabernacle in accord with the instructions Moses had received atop Mount Sinai a few chapters earlier. In order to build God’s sanctuary on earth, people are called to serve:

Everyone whose heart was uplifted and everyone whose spirit was moved contributed their part to the Holy One in the building of the Tent of Meeting. [Exod. 35:21]

One could look at this verse and find in its pithiness the essence of one’s life purpose. The Tent in question, in our interpretation, no longer corresponds to the few square feet of the portable construction in an ancient wilderness; rather, the Tent is that of Creation altogether. The point is no longer to build God’s narrowly defined exclusive sanctuary on earth, but for mankind to awaken to God’s sanctuary as Earth. This is the Tent of ultimate realization where humanity will meet itself as billions of unique and precious expressions of the Divine. This is the Tent of Meeting we are called to serve building.

How are we to serve? The verse seems to be telling us: with all our heart and with all our soul; by bringing the whole of who we are to it. But what does that mean? In a recent workshop at Bet Alef, our guests Joel and Michelle Levey offered a model of four sacred dimensions of leadership. They defined them as vision, wisdom, power and love and associated with each one, respectively, a specific archetype: the visionary, the sage/teacher, the warrior and the healer. All of us, they taught, have all four archetypes in our makeup; however, in most cases one of them is especially dominant. As Joel and Michelle were sharing this, I couldn’t help but make the connection with the four archangels of the bedtime Shema prayer. In front of us, we recite, is the angel Uriel (meaning Divine Light): the vision that lights the way ahead. On our right is Michael (our Godliness): the wisdom of Being within. On our left is Gabriel (God’s strength): the divine warrior in us. And behind us is Rafael (the healing presence of God): the healer within.

Bringing the whole of who we are to serve in manifesting the universal Tent of Meeting–as Torah calls us to do–starts with self-awareness. It means that we first need to become aware of the angel most dominant in us. And it also means that we work to bring more balance between all four angels through practices. If, for example, Gabriel is our dominant angel–the warrior-power archetype fixated on perfection–then the practice of service through the mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim/visiting the sick, might help strengthen the Rafael in us; the healer-compassionate archetype. In bringing all four angels in greater balance within the particular Tent of Meeting that we are, we will be better equipped to contribute the unique attributes of our angelic makeup to the building of the universal Tent of Meeting.

© 2011 Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, All rights reserved.