It is time to begin to read Torah – the Hebrew Bible – again. In the past three weeks, we have welcomed in the New Year on Rosh Hashana with a great chorus of shofar blasts, followed by days of reflection and preparation for the great releasing renewal of Yom Kippur, the Day of At-one-ment. We have built our makeshift dwellings for the holiday of Sukkot, our fall harvest festival, and shared with our guests our gratitude lists. Now, we prepare to read about Moses’ last breath, and then collectively, take a deep breath, roll the scroll back to the beginning, and read the world into being again, starting at the very beginning of the Torah.
Every new spiraling of the Jewish calendar – and of the cycle of Torah readings – brings forth new learnings, new deepenings, new places for God to reside among – and between – us. If we allow this newness to take root in our hearts and in our souls, we may be encouraged to see that we, too – each and every one of us – carry God within.
It is up to each of us to make a place for God, to carve out time for holiness. It is up to us, individually and collectively, to make meaning of the seasons, to live our lives in accordance with – or, at the very least, in dialogue with – the sacred rhythm of a land and a lived reality much changed since its inception, yet still vibrant and alive in our imaginations and in our texts.
Instead of getting stuck fixating on our inadequacies (sins), the Hasidic masters insist that we affirm that there is something that only you, the embodiment of a unique soul-spark of the divine, can manifest in this world. The B’nei Yisaschar, for example, writes that whoever does not engage in the building of the Beit Mikdash (the temple that stood in Jerusalem) in one’s own time, it is as if that person is engaged in its destruction.
So, in 5780, let us build that which is ours to build. Let us be in community in ways that will create a Beit Mikdash (holy temple) and invite God to reside within and among us, on this and every other day of the year.
“And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.”
V’asu li mikdash v’shachanti b’tocham (Ex 25: 8)
May the work of our hands be blessed this year!