Rabbi Miriam's Blog
After the construction of The Mishkan, the building of which brought the community together and made space for God to dwell in the midst of the people, we are instructed, in this week’s Parsha to focus on what we bring into the holy space and who should be entrusted to create the objects that will be come sacred.
“And you shall command the Children of Israel that they shall bring to you olive oil that is clear, crushed to illuminate and to kindle a lamp, to light an eternal lamp.” - Exodus 27:20
We are instructed not just to light the lamp, but to kindle an eternal flame with olive oil. The first, most important thing to bring into our holy space is not an object, but an idea, a principle – the principle of peace. The Torah is teaching us that we need to make peace primary and central within our innermost selves and at the core of our communities, lest we invite corruption and become unable to care for the needy, stand up for the powerless and cry out for the voiceless.
Building peace takes time. I am told that for an olive tree to grow from a seed to bearing fruit is six years. How precious is the fruit of a tree that we have nurtured for so many years - How sweet the fruit. The fruits of peace are all the lives that grow within it and the connections that flourish beneath.
We are command to create light with the fruits of this tree of peace- a light that will kindle – a light that will create more light. For us, a people who have known genocide, this light is not just a symbol that we keep in our sanctuary. We are called to carry this light with us as we work to see that “never again” shall this happen to us or anyone else. If we carry this light, ignited by a true passion for peace, it will kindle the flame in others. From action-to-action, we make space for the light to expand. From person-to-person we expand the peace and spread God’s grace over the darkness that engulfs too much of our world.
Who is trusted with this sacred task?
“And you shall speak to all who are wise of heart, that I have filled with a spirit of wisdom.” Exodus 28:3
Who are the people God has chosen to build and preserve this holy space? This peace? To whom has He entrusted the sacred responsibility to spread this light and kindle these flames? This answer is you. You my friends, with wisdom in your heart - It is up to you to make this principle visible. It is up you to “light these lights”.
Please speak out about this …. V’shinantam l’vanecha v’dibarta bam b’shivt’cha b’veitecha uv’lecht’cha vaderech uv’shochb’cha uv’kumecha. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.
May you be blessed to catch fire and may your sparks kindle the flame and may it spread the light of peace upon all.
Ahavat Torah of West Los Angeles
About Rabbi Miriam
Rabbi Miriam E. Hamrell MHL, M.Ed., has served as our religious and spiritual leader at Ahavat Torah Congregation and helped it grow since it was founded in 2003.