Since the kids like baking together, a while back Duncan prepped a baking activity, but instead of following the recipe exactly, he simply put out all the ingredients (in reasonable quantities) like sugar, flour, eggs, oil, salt, chocolate chips, etc., and invited them to create something. When you compare the Torah portions from the last few weeks, the Torah doesn’t just have one way of doing everything. In certain moments, it is imperative to explore, create, and experiment, and in others, there’s a precise formula to ensure safety, continuity, and balance.
When is a material gift spiritual, and when is a spiritual gift material? I have a vivid recollection of a November sun casting its cold rays onto the front porch of my childhood home as I unwrapped the large cardboard carton that contained an unassembled Big Wheel. The Big Wheel came to market in the 1970s; it was basically what happened when a tricycle died, went to heaven, and came back reincarnated as the coolest set of wheels any five-year-old could dream of owning.
Sacred spaces can be physical like the Tabernacle or a synagogue, or they can be personal, between two human beings. Parshat Terumah suggests that regardless of where they are, boundaries can have their own inherent holiness, and respecting them allows for more trusting relationships. The most beautiful movements together happen when you have your dance space and I have mine.
In 1996, a novel was published that touched the country’s nerve. It was brought to the big screen three years later, and despite initially tepid box office earnings, was destined to become a peculiar cult classic. That movie was Fight Club, starring Ed Norton and Brad Pitt. It is a dark, morbid study of the hollowness of consumer culture and white-collar corporate jobs while highlighting the loss of meaningful human connection.
The Torah is explicit that the rights of two people in a committed relationship are food, clothing, and conjugal love. Jewish law values the rights of both partners to sexual satisfaction within their partnership.
The Shabbat on which we read Parshat Yitro always feels particularly momentous since we recite the Aseret HaDibrot, or the Ten Commandments on this day. Indeed, tomorrow I will be speaking about the important role that the Ten Commandments and Torah as a whole have had on the Jewish people. Given that focus, it seemed appropriate to take a somewhat different direction for this Oasis Song. While Jewish law has an enormous scope, it rarely is about dry statutes; instead, it has long been a repository of Jewish history, moral dilemmas, and ethical sensitivities.
There is so much to be learned from others who are outside of our small Jewish community. Parshat Yitro calls loudly to all of humanity to open our minds and learn from one another. It doesn’t mean that we have to share all aspects of belief, but it also doesn’t serve a purpose to close ourselves off from one another and miss the opportunity to grow.