Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei 5783

March 13, 2023

Click HERE  for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Where do we face in our holy space? A D’var Torah for Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei By Rabbi Rob Scheinberg “Once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland Alice might have approved of the Talmud, which has conversations among the sages on every page. But she might have been disappointed that there are not very many pictures. There is, however, an evocative picture inspired by a verse from this week’s Torah portion, found in printed editions of the Babylonian Talmud in Rashbam’s commentary to Tractate Bava Batra 99a, that carries some relevance for us as we seek spiritual connection in holy spaces.   This week’s Torah portion of Vayakhel-Pekudei describes the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that was used during the...

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Parashat Pekudei 5782

March 3, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Making Space A D’var Torah for Parashat Pekudei By Rabbi Lizz Goldstein (’16) Some weeks feel like there is just so much ungodliness in the world; it’s hard to know where to even begin shining the light of Torah. I believe in the power of Torah, of the Divine, of our spiritual connections, to help clear away the shadows of sadness and fear, but sometimes there are just too many shadows to get all of them, and I just feel overwhelmed. In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Pekudei, our scripture may not directly address the horrors of war in Europe, refugees traversing continents, impending climate disaster, changes to public health recommendations that will surely continue to drag out the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, nor the regressive laws across the country right now attacking the bodily autonomy of people with uteruses and the...

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Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pikudei

March 12, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11) Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei recount the building, but more importantly, the embellishment, of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, according to detailed instructions given in last week’s parashah. This lavish description of fabrics, stones, weaving, woodworking, and artisanship comes on the heels of the building and destruction of the Golden Calf. There are some commentators who read the Golden Calf and the Tabernacle as two potential ends to the same impulse: a desire to build a physical presence to represent the ineffable, and to create a home for worship and supplication. While the episode of the Golden Calf represented the worst possible process for building a site for communal worship, the Tabernacle represented the best. While the Golden Calf was constructed under the leadership of Aaron, who failed to either provide authority...

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Parashat Vayak’hel / P’kudei 5780

March 20, 2020

  A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayak’hel P’kudei By Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11)What does it mean to have a “willing heart?” The phrase is used three times in the opening verses of this week’s parashah, Vayak’hel/P’kudei (Exodus 35:5, 22, and 29). It likewise appears in Parashat Terumah, Exodus 25:2. In each instance the circumstances are the same; it describes the voluntary donations of precious materials (gold, silver, jewels, rare fabrics) used for the construction of the Mishkan – God’s dwelling place among the Israelite tribes. These donations are all made by those whose heart moves them to do so, and they are made in such profusion that Moses ultimately must command the Israelites to stop (Exodus 36:6). But we only realize how evocative is the phrase “willing heart” when we consider the source of these gifts. These materials were acquired by the Israelites as they left Egypt, stripping it of its precious objects as they...

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Parashat Pekudei 5779

March 7, 2019

A Bell and a Pomegranate  A D’var Torah for Parashat Pekudei By Rabbi Jill Hammer A few months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Rubin Museum of Art in southern Manhattan, which displays items from the cultures of the Himalayas, India, and neighboring regions, with a particular emphasis on Tibetan art. Much of this art is spiritual, and related to Buddhist or Hindu practices. One ritual item I saw in multiple forms was the bell, one of the most important tools of Tibetan Buddhism. The bell, in that tradition, represents emptiness, wisdom, and truth. Another item, the vajra or scepter, represents bliss, action, and compassion, and is considered the complement to the bell—together they represent the union of all dualities, including the feminine and masculine. This got me thinking about bells and their companions a little closer to home: the bells and pomegranates on the bottom of the robe of the high...

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