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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

02/23/2023 05:00:00 PM


Cantor Regina Lambert-Hayut

This week’s Torah portion, Teruma, begins with God asking the Israelites to bring gifts freely and generously for the building of the mishkan.

The portion quickly moves into which gifts are needed and what ritual items they will be used to make. Amongst the items to be crafted are two cherubim with large wings. They are to be placed on each end of the top of the ark, facing one another with their gaze downward, at the space between them. God says: There I will meet you and I will let you know all that I will command you regarding the Israelites.

I read this line again and again, perplexed. Isn’t God all around us? Didn’t God follow the Israelites through the desert as a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire? Wasn’t God on the top of Mount Sinai? And where was God when God wasn’t actually residing between the cherubim over the ark?

While our ancient ancestors in Torah may have needed a place to seek God, I believe that we all seek God in different places and different ways. In our Purim story, God’s name is never directly spelled out. Our heroine Esther, although reluctant and afraid, sought God by finding the courage to stand up to tyranny to save lives.

Last week, in order to help us find voice to stand up for those who had experienced violence from mass shootings, I invited attendees at Shabbat services to sign a letter asking our legislators to support sensible gun safety legislation. This is one of so many issues that threaten our lives and well being in our world today. We may not have a foil called Haman, but we do have issues of social importance such as gun violence, climate change, bigotry, natural and human-made disasters, etc.

Let us call upon our inner Esther to stand up for a better society for ourselves and our children! Whatever action you can take to help address issues of importance will make a difference! We are taught in Pirkei Avot that while you are not expected to be able to repair the world all by yourself, neither are you permitted to avoid working toward a solution. 

It is important to note, though, that while we are required on Purim to hear the reading of the Megillah Esther, give gifts to friends and charity to those in need, we are also commanded to rejoice and enjoy ourselves in celebration. Yes, the work is heavy, but we also need to find joy and fun in our lives.

Next Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, we will gather to celebrate Purim as a community to have fun, be frivolous and fancy free. Please keep an eye out for our flyers and emails about these events. In order to best prepare for a great celebration, please sign up and join us in fulfilling the mitzvot of hearing the Purim story, giving charity by supporting the Religious School scholarship fund through the silent auction and celebrating fully!! 

Sun, March 3 2024 23 Adar I 5784