A Shabbat Message from Rabbi Bob Freedman:
"Build me a sanctuary," said God. It was the culmination of God's creation that God would have a pied-a-terre in the finite realm. Designed for human operation, the sanctuary would be a sophisticated piece of spirituaI tech ware that would initiate a easy, user-friendly interface between humans and the divine. Much, much easier, for instance, than heavy stone tablets inscribed with enigmatic utterances available only on a high remote mountain that lacked clear global positioning coordinates. Not to mention that said mountain was beset with earthquake, fire, thunder, and utter darkness.
So I approve. It's good to have easy access to the divine. Yet, I have a confession to make. Every year I sit in the Yom Kippur and cringe when the pitch for money comes. We need a new sanctuary. We need money to rebuild the roof. We need... I've always been plagued by the thought that such a mercenary ask doesn't fit the spirit of Yom Kippur. And I fear that the ask will be too long.
As of this week I think I've changed my mind. The instruction - you can read it at Exodus 24:1-9 - is that each person will make their uplifting gift of sanctuary building kit with a free heart. In turn God will dwell within them. Not what you expected, eh? Didn't you think God would dwell within it? The Hebrew is clear - b'tokham. Within it would be b'tokho. It's as if after giving freely with their hearts, their hearts would then have room within for God. Isn't this what Yom Kippur really about, at its core? L'taher libenu l'ovd'kha be-emet, to truly clean our hearts out so we can serve God with clarity, not obstruction.
I hope I can remember this when I'm getting shpilkes (the wiggles) next Yom Kippur and the fund-raiser gets up to speak.
As Shabbat begins, I invite you to draw your attention to your heart. Not your beating heart but your loving, aching, pulsing with life heart. Look at all the stuff stored in that wondrous chamber. Loves, hurts, joys, sorrows, longing, fulfillments, hopes, fear, the desire to help others... look through them. Choose one or two to offer to God, so that there will be room in your heart for a sanctuary where God can live within you.