We all shared a beautiful Shabbas evening this past week. With gratitude to our donor, Freida Maisel, and the women who prepared the meal (Ginny, Kathy, Audrey and Jani) and Yvonne & Richard for their help, I write this email. The prayers held a special festive air, thanks to Yehudah Silverwolf for leading the Guitar service and Danielle & Josh Isen for sharing their beautiful voices and love of song. A guitar service followed by a delicious meal with beautiful flowers on the tables and many people mixing, socializing and introducing themselves to newcomers; what could be better? It reminded all who attended how we can be moved spiritually by taking part in a communal event. And to all who have planned an event it spoke to the need to address many details with attention, preparation, focus and diligence.
Now ask yourself how you would have felt if;
there had been no flowers on the tables?
no Challah or wine on the tables?
insufficient chairs were set up?
food was cold?
lights had failed?
song sheets were crumpled?
20 people had come to Shul instead of 100?
It would have been a disappointment instead of a lovely and memorable event. The beauty of the evening emerged from the work and prep by many people known to us as well as by people who worked behind the scenes. That so many joined us elevated the excitement level in the Sanctuary and Social Hall. Being there made it special!
This week we read of the first construction project mounted by the Jewish People. The Parshah describes everyone in the community as showing up, each with her or his own ability, including weaving, painting, dying, hanging, fabricating, sewing, designing, organizing and more. The anticipation of the Tabernacle’s being completed soon must have nearly equaled the excitement we felt in our Social Hall last week. God’s own portable dwelling only came into being because every individual brought something of his/her own making. For our dinner to be memorable some volunteers cooked, others shopped, others cleaned, set tables and many just showed up. The giving of the self as well as attending the gathering adds spiritual energy to the group, and in our case, contributed to the worship. It's striking that each of us has much to offer the community, that one individual can lift up a group. May we continue to build our community as prior generations have done and may we take to heart the seriousness of just showing up.
P.S. Most haftarahs highlight a theme, large or small, in the week's Parshah. Occasionally, a Haftarah brings to mind some other element. This week we read a special Haftarah named 'Shekalim' (shekels) which describes the requirement that every adult male bring a half-shekel to the Temple in order that Temple preparations could be made in time for Passover. These preparations included Temple repair, buying animals, road repairs near the Temple, buying new utensils for the Temple and prep for feeding poor Israelites. Consider the Haftarah being read throughout the entire Jewish world and its similarity to our communal Shabbas dinner.