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136http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2013/02/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---03_01_2013
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 03_01_2013
02/28/2013 03:01 PM Posted by:

From the desk of

March 1, 2013

 

There are some remarkably sweet moments in Torah, between God and Moses. Over time, Moses develops an intimate friendship with God that inspires him. In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tisa, Moses implores God to reveal God’s “face” to him. But, even after all the promises God made to Moses, including leading them forward from Sinai, God could not reveal God’s “face” to Moses. Instead, God said to him, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the name Lord, and the grace that I grant and the compassion that I show. But, you cannot see My ‘face’, for man may not see Me and live.”

This was a gracious gesture towards Moses. In effect, God said to Moses, you can have everything I have to offer, but not that which would be at the expense of your own life. Instead, God told Moses to stand on a rock, and “as My Presence (k’vodee: my glory) passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with My hand until I have passed by.” Moses would have the privilege of seeing God’s back as God passed by.

While the Israelites waited, God and Moses shared a private moment. God provided Moses with everything he could bear, nothing more and nothing less. And, Moses gave God his undying commitment and faithfulness to take the people forward. It was a unique pact that, unlike any god-man relationship ever known, did not trespass the boundary between them. God remained unique in God’s power and presence. Moses remained a human being who was singled out by God to serve Him. The Israelites’ journey continued. The Tabernacle, nearly completed, would go with them and God’s presence would guide them.

It’s been a terribly long time since God’s presence was found in a cloud or portable Ark. But, while the Hebrew prophets had to relinquish the presence of God who dwelt in a central place, they embraced their faith in God’s omnipresence (everywhere). The word of God was alive and well as long as faithful stewards of God’s teachings maintained them. Now, long past the age of Hebrew prophets and Sages, each of us can still enjoy our own personal relationship with God. I don’t mean to say that we will have a front row view of God passing by like Moses enjoyed; nor, do I mean that we will hear God’s word as the Prophets did, but I do mean that the privilege to choose how to live in covenant with God, remains a personal choice. Ultimately, our choice is joined by other like-minded Jewish men and women. Then we form congregations together to sustain us and our families. That’s what happened in 1854, when Beth Israel was organized.

Your choice and my choice are linked in how we observe, celebrate and participate together in Jewish life at Beth Israel. But, the real center of Jewish life is the Jewish home. In Hebrew, it’s called a mikdash me’at, a small sanctuary. I like to say that if Judaism isn’t happening at home, then it isn’t happening. The synagogue is a resource and communal gathering place, but it cannot substitute for nor replace your Jewish home. Make Judaism happen in your house and let’s share our Jewish joy when we come together at Beth Israel.

From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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