Calling All Angels: Vayak’hel-Pekudei

Vayak’hel-Pekudei: Exodus 35:1-40:38

We are entering into the closing chapters of the Book of Exodus. This week’s Torah portion marks the retelling of the building of the Tabernacle in accord with the instructions Moses had received atop Mount Sinai. 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? I remember a workshop at Bet Alef some years ago, where our guests Joel and Michelle Levey offered at the time 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 Gemilut Chasadim/acts of loving-kindness, might help strengthen the Rafael in us; the healer-compassionate archetype.

Our world is also an expression of our angels, and it seems to also be deeply imbalanced. Perhaps we have let the Warrior archetype, Gabriel, dominate for too long. As we would do to find balance in ourselves, perhaps the CoronaVirus pandemic is calling us to practice Gemilut Chasadim as deeply spiritual acts in the world, in order to bring about Rafael, the Healer archetype. We are called to find ways, even in the seclusion of our forced social-isolation, to reach out, to connect, to be in touch with those we know to be more vulnerable than we are, more isolated than we are, through simple yet powerful acts of loving-kindness.

May these most trying times awaken humanity to knowing itself as one, global, inextricably interconnected family. May we, together, serve to create a more perfect Tent of Creation.

We are entering into the closing chapters of the Book of Exodus. This week’s Torah portion marks the retelling of the building of the Tabernacle in accord with the instructions Moses had received atop Mount Sinai. 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? I remember a workshop at Bet Alef some years ago, where our guests Joel and Michelle Levey offered at the time 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 Gemilut Chasadim/acts of loving-kindness, might help strengthen the Rafael in us; the healer-compassionate archetype.

Our world is also an expression of our angels, and it seems to also be deeply imbalanced. Perhaps we have let the Warrior archetype, Gabriel, dominate for too long. As we would do to find balance in ourselves, perhaps the CoronaVirus pandemic is calling us to practice Gemilut Chasadim as deeply spiritual acts in the world, in order to bring about Rafael, the Healer archetype. We are called to find ways, even in the seclusion of our forced social-isolation, to reach out, to connect, to be in touch with those we know to be more vulnerable than we are, more isolated than we are, through simple yet powerful acts of loving-kindness.

May these most trying times awaken humanity to knowing itself as one, global, inextricably interconnected family. May we, together, serve to create a more perfect Tent of Creation.