Archives for January 2014

Torah Reflections – January 26 – February 1, 2014

T’rumah

Exodus 25:1 – 27:19

Temples Within Temples Within Temples                                       

We find, in this week’s Parashah the Divine injunction that adorns Bet Alef’s new ark:

V’asu Li Mik’dash, v’Shachan’ti b’tocham – Let them make Me a Sanctuary that I might dwell among them.” [Exod. 25:8]

Following this verse and for the rest of the Torah portion, the Eternal communicates to Moses the detailed plans of how to build and assemble such a Sanctuary — also called a Tabernacle (Mish’kan in Hebrew) — in the wilderness. The Mish’kan was to be placed at the center of the traveling twelve tribes, a reflection of what the newly freed Israelites held sacred, of what defined their way of worship, and what united them as a nation.

We too, as a nation, have created temples that are a reflection of what we worship. As a society, we have built at great expense our temples of sports in so many big arenas and gigantic stadiums. We have our temple of money in Wall Street, our temples of political power in the White House and Congress. The temple of our military power is the Pentagon, and Corporate America’s temples are all the skyscrapers that make up the skyline of our cities. And let’s not forget our shopping malls. [Read more…]

Torah Reflections – January 19 – 25, 2014

Mishpatim

Exodus 21:1 – 24:18

The Angel Within                                      

Can you imagine what it must have been like the day after? Just yesterday we were at the foot of Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. It was big. It was thunderous. Our bodies were shaking, our senses were confused, we saw the thunder and we heard the lightning. Amidst the deafening blasts of the shofarot and the shuddering mountain which was afire and smoking, God revealed God-Self to us. Unfathomable! But then the moment passes. The day ends and the next day comes; and that morning feels a little like a hangover. What do we do now? After such a momentous event, how is one supposed to re-enter “normal” life? Because no matter how deep the experience, one does re-enter normal life. Life’s needs still require attending. As Jack Kornfield pointedly titled his book: “After The Ecstasy, The Laundry.” But how do we do that?

Torah Reflections – January 12 – 18, 2014

Yitro

Exodus 18:1 – 20:23

One With The One                                     

Now Moses went up to God. The Eternal One called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob and declare to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. Now then, if you hear, deeply hear My voice, and keep My covenant, you will be to Me a special treasure among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine. You shall be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation’. These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.” [Exod. 19:3-6] 

Thus begins chapter 19 in the book of Exodus, the chapter leading up to the Ten Commandments and Revelation at Sinai. Moving beyond the literal level, I read this chapter as a transmission of a spiritual encounter couched in the literary form of myth. Though the words of Revelation meet us in the next chapter, chapter 19 describes the moment of awakening.

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