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Parashat Hashavuah: Terumah

“Then insert the poles into the rings on the side walls of the ark, for carrying the ark” Exodus 25:14

    In the Babylonian Talmud, Abba Binyamin is quoted as teaching that one’s prayer is only truly heard in a synagogue (Berachot 6a). While this is clearly good news for congregational rabbis and those in the business of maintaining synagogues, I am not certain that it actually reflects the real life experience of most ordinary Jews. 

    Even those of us who do pray regularly in shul will probably be able to recall many occasions of sincere prayer outside the synagogue, when exploring the magnificent outdoors or at the bedside of an ill or dying person. How could we possibly suggest that these prayers are not truly heard, provided we believe in a God able to hear prayer in general?

    While Abba Binyamin bases his teaching on Solomon’s Temple, I think the description of the building of the Tabernacle in this week’s sidrah might come to contradict his narrow view. The Tabernacle is not to be a fixed building nor is it supposed to be the only place to encounter God. Designed to be portable, the tabernacle is an early example of a revolutionary idea: unlike other ancient Near Eastern gods, the Jewish God travels with the people even if they are sent into exile.

    While the Tabernacle holds the tablets with the commandments and provides a central focus for service to God, the sidrah also makes it clear that this is not where God will be, as it says in Exodus 25:8: “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them”. So whether it is outdoors, at someone’s bedside, during study or in synagogue, our sidrah teaches that God will dwell among us if we just invite Her in.
     

Sidrah

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim
Sidrah

Vayeshev

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Vayeshev
Sidrah

Tzav

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Tzav
Sidrah

Vayera

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein

Friday, November 3, 2017

Vayera
Sidrah

Va'era

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Va'era