D’var Torah: Rabbi Daniel Berman (Te​tzaveh​)

Despite my admittedly pitiful tool kit, which sits in my basement beneath boxes of legos, and which contains about 7 tools, all of which are hammers, I actually love to build.  As you might imagine, I am not a particularly sophisticated craftsman. I have more of a minimalist approach: wood, hammer, nail; sometimes different length nails, or kinds of wood. But, truly, I love to build.

A friend asked me recently how I came to love building so much given my dearth of talent. He was being playful and funny, not critical, which was a wonderful opening for me to reflect on this interesting question.

I think of this question every fall as I hammer nails into wood to build the frame of our sukkah. Building even a simple frame is an amazing human act. It reminds us of our ability to create spaces that will contain so much of what we love. In our family sukkah we have sat with our closest family and friends and shared meals and blessing, while reflecting on meaningful parts of our lives.

This week we continue reading the extraordinary detail of the “mishkan,” the portable sanctuary that the Israelites built and carried through the desert. Now we add instructions regarding the menorah and the priestly vestments, and most critically, the consecration of that space, meaning how to “activate” the space and make it holy.

What might this mean, to activate the holiness of a space? While I am confident that the ancient Israelites were far better and more experienced builders, artists and decorators than me, our hopes are the same. With these hands, and with theirs, we have aspired to build frames to bring meaning, memory, blessing, learning and loving more deeply into our lives. That is, to let God dwell among us, that we may be uplifted into the holy.

Rabbi Daniel Berman, Temple Reyim, Newton