How do you find spiritual fulfillment? Maybe it's through traditional prayer, or maybe it's through a walk in the woods or a jam session with friends. This week's Torah portion suggests it might be confusing to offer alternative paths to spiritual connection, but as a rabbi I take the opposite approach.
As we read Parshat Vayikra, especially at a time when our community simply is not physically able to come together in person to apologize, to forgive, and to move on, we are reminded that each of us holds the key to our own journey to forgiveness. And perhaps an added benefit of this period of isolation is merely the time to look inward and finally use that key. Shabbat shalom.
As we read Parshat Vayakhel and Pekudei, we are nudged to ask ourselves, instead of the Tabernacle, what is the reminder of our covenant with God that we carry each day? Our society has evolved that we don’t necessarily need a separate physical reminder in our community to be good; the reminder is how we act toward each other.
Two narratives - a reminder to rest on Shabbat and the frantic rashness of the Golden Calf - seem vastly different, yet are linked through this week's Torah portion. Perhaps the lesson is that had the Israelites actually taken the opportunity to rest while Moses was on the mountain, they wouldn't have engaged in idolatry.
Just like the many articles of clothing the priests wore, there are many levels on which we each connect to God and each other. The colors and materials represented diversity of the community, and the priest served them all at any time and any stage. What a wonderful example for leaders today.
There's a common tradition that when you say motzi, each person touches someone who is touching the challah, so that everyone present is connected to the things that nourish and sustain us, like food and family. So much of who we are as a people is tied to this feeling of intimate connection, and it stems from the Torah.
While it may not be the most significant act of social kindness, there's a small measure of compassion that’s transferred from person to person every time you say "please" and "thank you." When we use these words, we're expressing gratitude for the gift of partnership. And I would argue that to walk through the world without this is to steal that gift.