An article I wrote for the Philadelphia Jewish Voice (http://pjvoice.org) about the recent Israel Independence Day festivities has been published. Please check it out, http://pjvoice.org/2019/05/13/israel-independence-day-celebration-at-thomas-paine-plaza/#.XN7wFo5KiM8 .
we are approaching Pesach, AKA Passover, theholiday commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt-called in Hebrew “Mitzrayim,” the narrow place, the place of limitations and few options-through the red Sea, and on to the Promised Land, the place of fulfillment.
A ;pt pf this is metaphor, like all religious teachings;”Mitzrayim” is a terrible situation you can’t tolerate any longer, such as physical bondage, a terrible job with little pay and bad conditions, a school bully, or an abusive spouse or parent. The Red Sea stands for the act of leaving the abusive situation, the borderline between oppression and liberation.
For this, I continue my tradition of Pesach resolutions, like with New Year’s; Pesach is the New Year of the Jews:
I will continue to conduct myself with self-love, self esteem, and self-respect, carrying myself with dignity, paying attention to the positive parts of my life, not judging myself too critically but correcting any errors and moving on.
I will continue to be loyal to Jewish history, religion, Kaballah, Israel,etc., and stand up for my people if attacked.
I will continue my social and political activism,standing up for all put-upon and powerless people, helping them find their power, and help right what is wrong in the community.
I will continue the art and business of writing, attending classes, readings, seminars, etc.
I will continue all forms of educations, be it classroom, libraries, lectures, etc.
I wish everyone a happy Pesach, and may you all escape you own Mitzrayim and get to your Promised land.
This weekend we study the Torah portion Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20-30:10. God instructs Moses to appoint his brother Aaron and his sons as priests of the Mishkan, the traveling Temple; God also instructs Moses on the manufacture of the vestments of the priests. “…you shall instruct all who are skillful, who I have endowed with the gift of skill,” (Ex. 27.3) to make the priestly vestments. The kinds of things that God instructs to be placed on the vestments include the color of the yarns, the fabric they are made of, the gems that are set on the vestments, and how each portion of the vestments-breast-piece, headdress, sashes-were to be made, along with how the priests were to be anointed in the consecration ceremony.
To me, this is compatible to the construction of the Mishkan in last week’s Torah portion, Terumah; just as the details of the making of the Mishkan shows the presence of God in the community, so the making of the vestments of the priest, who embodies each individual Jew, shows the presence of God for each person in their daily lives.
This weekend we studied the Torah portion Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19. God outlines to Moses the plans for the construction of the Mishkan, the traveling tabernacle the Israelites carried while in the wilderness. God, the Ruler of the Universe, dictates the elements of the construction of the Mishkan-the cloth it’s made of, the setting of the jewelry, the fixing of the poles for setting up. This shows God intervening in the concrete affairs of humans.
This work requires the efforts of the entire community and its skills-stonemasons, carpenters, weavers, tailors, etc.; in fact, it symbolized and embodied the community, showing that each person, and each class in the community, has a role to play in the community’s development.