Dear Beit Sefer Families,
This week’s Torah portion, T’tzaveh, begins with instructions to the priests for kindling the lights of the lamp stand, the menorah that stood in the Tabernacle. The menorah was to be lit and to burn from evening until morning. Revisiting this passage this week, what struck me was not just the idea of a perpetual light, but the daily care required to rekindle the light. We have an Eternal light in the sanctuary that hangs by the ark. The light we have in our sanctuary is automatic; we do not have to take any time and attention to rekindle the light. What would it mean for us to have to rekindle the light each day? What might change if we saw the light ignite and fade?
Even if the light that symbolizes an eternal presence is automatic, maybe what it represents in our community still needs care and kindling. What do we do in our community that kindles the light and brings us a sense of a divine spirit? Maybe the mitzvot that we do are a way of giving care to the figurative light that shines in our community. The word “T’zaveh” the name of this Torah portion is related to the word “mitzvah.” Maybe it is used here to remind us that doing mitzvot like caring for the sick, respecting people’s property, keeping Shabbat, feeding the hungry and others ignite a divine spark within our community just as the priests were commanded to kindle the light of the menorah.
Today, I had a conversation with staff from the Inland Valley Hope Partners to explore opportunities for working together. Our conversation ignited in me a strong commitment to do social action in our community personally, not only through TBI and Beit Sefer. I go home tonight with the challenge of how to keep the light burning, how to rekindle it each day.