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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Judaism

Okay, given the seemingly infinite nature of Jewish text, history, and interpretation, there may be more than 5 things you didn’t know about Judaism. But, here are 5 things you can learn more about at Federation’s ROUTES: Day of Learning on Sunday, November 5th at George Mason University! ROUTES is a full day of classes led by world-famous presenters from all walks of the Jewish world – including many from right here in the DC area. So, did you know…

“JewBarrassment” is a thing. It’s that uncomfortable feeling most of us get when we think we’ve said or done something wrong with regard to Jewish practice. It was coined by Archie Gottesman, founder of JewBelong.com and a featured speaker at Federation’s ROUTES, who will discuss her vision of making Judaism more accessible. (Search Class 1A and 3A)

You can use rhythm and movement to engage with Torah. Jewish tradition has a long history with using rhythm to evoke meaning in Torah texts through cantillation and Chassidic niggun, a form of religious song. Matisyahu Tonti will lead a ROUTES session where participants will use a classic Torah story, and musical techniques from the Orff Approach to music education, to learn and create a short performance that will be fun, kinesthetic, and intellectually stimulating. (Search Class 1B)

The Torah is green. Jewish tradition teaches us to protect the environment through a wide range of lessons about how to conserve resources and use them responsibly. Eating locally and sustainably is tied closely to a Kosher diet. In Evonne Marzouk’s ROUTES class, you can learn about what Jewish wisdom says about protecting the environment and using resources sustainably, then see pictures and learn about the “ingredients” of sustainable home improvement. (Search Class 1E)

The Statue of Liberty is totally Jewish. Kerry Brodie’s session at ROUTES will discuss the brief life and legacy of Emma Lazarus, the Jewish woman behind the words etched into The Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” (Search Class 2F)

Jewish Washingtonians held a vigil outside the Soviet embassy in DC every day for 20 years. GatherDC’s Jewish Teacher of the Week(!), Aaron Bregman, will explore the time when Soviet Jews were fleeing the Iron Curtain, American Jews in DC responded to the reports of harassment and oppression by organizing a resistance movement that included vigils, protests and more. Come ready to discuss questions like, “Was this experience the last time diaspora Jewry bonded together over such an important topic?” and, “What does it take to galvanize or unify our Jewish community?” (Search Class 1D)

Check out all the details and register here. Plus, get $20 off your registration with code GATHERDCROUTES2017. Heads up – if you use the code, lunch will not be included with your ticket (but you can BYO). Online registration closes Wednesday, November 1st, but young professionals (under 40) can show their IDs at the door to receive $20 off the door price of $54. This discounted price does not include lunch.

 

This is a sponsored post. The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Introducing Identity Lab

IdentityLab_LOGOB-300x157We’re starting something new at Sixth & I. It’s called Identity Lab. It’s a chance to get to know other people by hearing their stories, and to discover something about ourselves through studying Jewish stories. We’ll learn something amazing together—Joseph and his crazy family, the history of how bar and bat mitzvahs got quite so over the top, Moses Maimonides and why he loved the life of the mind—and then take that learning to see how it matches our own lives and our own personal history. Local artist (of incredible talent) Rachel Farbiarz and I will create an open, welcoming, interesting, collaborative learning environment. You’ll get to learn, and then investigate, interrogate, think about, and, ultimately—only if you want to—tell your own stories at a live show.

I have a story of my own to tell you. I was born with a lisp, which stuck with me through elementary school. My parents took me to a speech therapist; I used to get pulled out of classes once a week to repeat sibilant syllables over and over into a tape recorder. My first name starts with “S,” so I creatively mispronounced my own name for a good five years.

The thing about having a lisp is that your tongue doesn’t move quite as fast as your brain, at least quite as fast as it should. When you start to speak, to speed into the fast lane of daily conversation, your tongue jumps, trips, then stumbles. I’d find myself verbally sprawled out on the asphalt. My tongue always landed me a step behind, and I learned to not quite trust my own talking.

Moses had a speech impediment, too. In fact, he’s famous for it. And when I read the verses that Moses says to God, I feel that rare, rock-solid sense of recognition: “For I am heavy of speech and heavy of tongue.” I know what that’s like, not that a person can’t speak, but that he doesn’t trust his ability to keep speaking.

God’s answer to him is a good one, though—a zinger: “Who made people’s mouths?,” the Holy One asks wryly. God did. God created the impediment. “Now go, and I will be with your mouth, and will teach you what to say.”

What I learned is that one doesn’t teach with the mouth; one teaches with the message. The speech, the talking, the rhetoric, the form—they don’t quite matter as much as we think they do. It’s the message that counts; it’s the message that matters.

RabbiScottPerloHeadshotWEBLike for Moses, you do not need to come to Identity Lab and be the most articulate speaker, or tell the wittiest anecdote, or have the funniest tale. Identity Lab is about finding a message, uncovering something important about yourself, and then sharing it with other people. The Torah that we study together will help give you words and a frame of reference to better understand yourself. Tell or listen, share from your life or help other people share from theirs—you will find a message that means something to you.

 

Our workshops begin Wednesday, February 4th. Join us to enrich your Jewish identity and be part of the story.

DC Shavuot Events

tenOn Shavuot we celebrate receiving the Torah and it is traditional to study Torah through the night.  This year Shavuot begins on the evening of Tuesday, May 14th. We’ve compiled a few event options for Shavuot and will continue to update the list so check back.

Monday, May 13th:

Tuesday, May 14th:

Wednesday, May 15th:

Are You There G-d?

Rabbi Aron Moss contributes regular Q&A commentaries to Gather the Jews.  Rabbi Moss is the proprietor of Nefesh and can be reached at rabbimoss@nefesh.com.au.  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rabbi Moss.

Question of the Week:

How can we be 100% certain that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people? I feel that I cannot observe a religion if I am not certain that it is true. Is there any proof of G-d and Torah?

Answer:

Imagine you could do a blood test to determine who your soul mate is. You would go to a laboratory with a prospective partner and give blood samples, and half an hour later they would tell you yes or no. Sounds amazing! But think about it: Is that an ideal way to start a relationship? Would it be romantic to say, “Listen, the blood test came out positive, so we may as well get engaged”?

The truth is we wouldn’t appreciate a laboratory-tested soul mate. What makes a relationship meaningful is that it is a choice coming from within. If we based a commitment on external evidence such as a blood test, we would indeed have certainty, but the sense of freedom would be lost. Freedom is an essential ingredient of true love – certainty is not.

That’s why proving G-d is not helpful. G-d wants us to enter into a relationship with Him by choice, not by force. He created us as free beings who can deny Him if we want. There is no outside force or argument or proof that compels us to serve G-d. For that reason, when we do serve Him, it is by choice, it is coming from us, and that is the basis for a real relationship.

There are many logical proofs of G-d’s existence and the truth of Torah. But just as most people only recognize their soul mate after they have already committed to the relationship, most people are only ready to appreciate these proofs after they have already established a relationship with G-d.

If you wait to know for sure that you have found your soul mate you may forever remain single. And if you wait for proof of G-d’s truth you may forever live in a lonely universe. Embrace uncertainty and open yourself up to a real relationship. When you make that choice, you will find proof of G-d within your own soul.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss

Mitzvah Maker – Rabbi Berkman

Tell us about Mesorah, DC.
Mesorah DC is an organization committed to enhancing the Jewish experience of the young professional community in D.C. Over 10 years ago Rabbi Teiltelbaum saw an opportunity to connect with, and serve a community that was not really being serviced at the time. Since then, countless numbers of young professional Jews have participated our events. We take pride in trying to make all Jews from all affiliations and backgrounds feel comfortable and welcome at our programs.

Where can we find you on a Friday night?
On the first and third Friday night of each month Mesorah DC hosts Shabbat services and dinner at the beautiful 6 & I Historic Synagogue. Services start at 6:45 and dinner follows at 8. We often have guest speakers or special events at our dinners and it always guarantees a good time. This week, in fact, is our kick off Shabbat for the season. We are privileged to have world renowned relationship expert Mort Fertel as our guest speaker. I would like to take this opportunity to personally invite all GTJ readers to join. For more info or to RSVP check out our new website www.mesorahdc.org.
How many people come to Mesorah Shabbat dinners?I would say that in an average shabbat, we probably expect about 120 people. If we have a special event or speaker, we can host between 180 and 200 people. This coming shabbat, we are preparing for a big crowd.

What if we are Jewish, but have never been to a Shabbat, can we still come?
Absolutely! That is why we are here. If you are apprehensive or feel funny about just showing up to services, please feel free to contact myself or any of the Mesorah rabbis any time throughout the week. We would be happy to talk to you or meet with you sometime before Shabbat if that would make you feel more comfortable.   What is your personal role in Mesorah DC, and how do you view youre roll in the community in general?I am fortunate to work with a very talented staff along with Rabbis Lefkowitz and Motzen and under the direction of Rabbi Teitelbaum. We very much work as a team, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of that team.  On a personal level, I want to be whatever the community needs. Even outside of regular Mesorah events, I am available throughout the week. If you want to learn, but Cafe Nite doesn’t fit into your schedule, let me know and we can make a different time to study. If you want to start a special class or study group during the day for friends or colleagues, I would be happy to help that happen as well. I am really here for the young professional Jews in DC, committed to making your Jewish experience a positive and enriching one.

How do we contact you (facebook, email, website…)?
I have about ten different email addresses, but the easiest one to reach me at is rabbiberkman@gmail.com. I feel kind of funny giving it out online but it’s on our website anyway so my cell phone is 443-538-3606.

Also I am kind of new to the face book community, so i could use some good friends.

Any parting shots or  piece of wisdom can you share with young professional Jews in DC?
D.C. is a great community with awesome potential. Make the most of your time here and the resources available to you. It’s amazing to thing that I am talking to Gather the Jews, a website focused on the options for Young professional Jews in D.C, that receives over 2000 hits a week. Its been a pleasure to watch GTJ grow to what it is now in really a relatively short time. You guys used to come to Mesorah events as participants now you come as community leaders. It is a testament to your hard work but also to the community you serve. Young professionals in D.C. are hungry for Jewish enrichment. We at Mesorah DC are here to provide what you are looking for. Please join us soon!

A Real and Lasting Source of Jewish Pride

Recently Gather the Jews co-founder and president, Stephen Richer, declared that Jewish pride is not a sin. He is correct. Not only does Jewish pride lack sinfulness, but it is a seminal and necessary ingredient in bringing a Jewish person to involve him/herself in communal Jewish life. But, what is Jewish pride and how can we foster a real and lasting pride in being Jewish?

The answer can be summed up in one word: Torah. If we desire to see subsequent generations of Jews not only survive, but flourish, we need to make sure they are educated about Judaism. After all, it is Judaism, which unites us as a people and in which most of our cultural traditions, quirks, humor, and even success are rooted. The Torah is the foundation stone of Judaism, and its study and observance is what has sustained Jews as a cohesive group with a strong identity for thousands of years.  The Torah has kept us alive against the backdrop of both violent persecution and times of encouraged assimilation and apathy. It is what makes us a nation and unique entity. Its values have enabled us to make the world a better place.

The problem American Jewry faces right now is apathy and a disturbingly high rate of intermarriage. Studies have shown that children of interfaith families are far less likely to actively participate in Jewish life when they reach adulthood. Yes, Holocaust remembrance and support for the Jewish state of Israel are very important and noble activities, but more is needed to ensure that Jewish young people marry Jewish and raise committed Jewish children. A person who has incorporated such things as kosher and Shabbat – to whatever degree they choose – will naturally want a marital partner with whom to share such things. ‘After-the-fact’ discussions about how to get Jews to marry within the faith or stay connected are not nearly as effective as the vaccination of Jewish education and observance.

A lot of us in this age of high-speed internet and smart phones, so used to the instant gratification these things provide for us, would like a ‘quick-fix’ or an easy solution to the problem of Jewish assimilation and disintegration. Unfortunately there isn’t one. Jewish education is the key to ensuring a Jewish future. To learn or teach Judaism is a gratifying and pleasurable experience, but it is one that takes time, dedication, and most of all hard work. Flashy advertisements and t-shirts or other programs that seek to make Judaism seem ‘hip’ or cool, but are devoid of substance, will not make a lasting impression on young people as evidenced by the recent collapse of J-Dub and Jewcy. A Jewish communal life that is only focused on social justice or tikkun olam, as Joel Alperson pointed out, will also end in failure.

We live in a changing world, and the spirituality, healthy family structure, and intellectual stimulation that a Torah observant lifestyle provides is the only way to effectively combat all the sterile alternatives that the mainstream established Jewish community has thus far offered.  Our ancestors survived for thousands of years by studying and observing the Torah and transmitting that knowledge of Judaism to subsequent generations. Today there must be a renewed effort at enhancing and promoting Jewish education. Thank G-d, there are many organizations that provide children, teenagers and adults with Torah classes. Obviously more has to be done, but a positive trend is emerging. A substantial number of Jews are reclaiming their tradition and raising their children with a love and passion for Torah, mitzvot, and acts of kindness.  There is truly no better buffer against the rising tides of assimilation. Many young American Jews are tired of the fluffy and the superficial. Young people today need something real if they are going to continue to identify as Jews.

Social events such as Gather the Jews happy hours and Israel trips such as Birthright are excellent for bringing Jews together and fostering that basic Jewish pride, but it’s what we do with that pride that matters and will ultimately determine the Jewish future. It is one thing to be inspired to want to do something a little more Jewish, but temporary political causes and social events fade. Torah is eternal.

Some will undoubtedly not like this answer to the problem of Jewish continuity, but they should consider the following. The study of Torah has sharpened Jewish brains for millennia and this devotion to education has carried over into the secular realm with Jews earning a disproportionate amount of college degrees, wealth, and Nobel Peace prizes. We are foolish if our ‘pride’ is based on false beliefs that somehow Jewish people are naturally ‘better’ or ‘smarter’ than the rest of the population. Such assertions are foolhardy at best and down-right racist at worst.

We are successful, because our roots are in the Torah and its observance. When a plant is severed from its roots it will continue to live for a little while longer, but eventually it will begin to whither and decay. As American Jews we must ask ourselves why we should continue to be Jewish. We need to know what to tell our children who may one day ask us this question. We need to have a better reason than ‘because they tried to kill us’ or bagels and lox. Torah and G-d are eternal. By investing in G-d and His Torah we too will remain eternally.

We would do well to consider the following words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “At a collective level [Torah Judaism] is the ultimate path to the unity of the Jewish people. We are one because we are part of the Torah. The Torah is one because it is the word of G-d. That is the truth which our ancestors carried with them from generation to generation, enlarging not only themselves but the moral horizons of mankind.” We owe it not only to ourselves, but to all of humanity to stay connected to Jewish tradition.

Being a Signpost

The great Torah scholar, Maimonides writes that in the times of ancient Israel when the Temple stood, there were signposts all over the country proclaiming “Refuge! Refuge!” These signs were pointing to the six ‘cities of refuge’ discussed in this week’s parsha, Parshas Masei. These cities of refuge were meant to provide asylum to those who had accidentally taken a life (through negligence) and protect them from blood relatives of the deceased who may wish to avenge the ‘murder.’ Maimonides explains that it was the responsibility of every community in Israel to make sure that there were no impediments to finding and reaching a city of refuge. Bridges and roads had to be built and maintained over all natural barriers and directions to the cities of refuge had to be clearly demarcated with signs. Every community was obligated to make sure nothing delayed a person who was seeking a city of refuge. A deeper, more mystical analysis of this subject will reveal that this obligation has not disappeared.[1]

On a mystical level every transgression is a subtle form of murder. The Baal HaTanya, also known as Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, explains that every transgression, no matter how minor, obscures and further exiles the Divine Presence. Sins hinder the illumination of G-dly light into our world.[2] It is for this reason that our Sages have referred to the words of Torah as ‘cities of refuge’ for the destroyer of spiritual life.[3]

However, what use is a haven if it is not well-known? The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that today’s world is filled with ‘spiritual’ refugees. It is the duty of every Jew who knows even a little bit of Torah to stand at the crossroads and act as a living signpost calling out “Refuge Refuge” and pointing in the direction of Torah.[4]

I know what some of you are thinking. I can’t be ‘signpost.’ My knowledge about Judaism is insufficient even for myself – let alone to qualify me to teach others. Perhaps you may know enough to teach, but don’t feel capable to rise to the occasion – “I’m not a rabbi,” you might say, or “I’ve never been very good at public speaking.” In response to such concerns, it’s important to remember the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that if one knows the Hebrew letter alef,  one should teach alef. In other words one should teach – or perhaps a better word is share – whatever one knows with another.

Hold on a second! Aren’t I hypocrite if I start teaching others about Jewish concepts or ideals to which I myself do not always able to live up by? A quick story addresses this concern. A man was once walking to the city of Lubavitch where he was planning to study in yeshiva. On the way he passed a signpost that read ‘Lubavitch’ with an arrow pointing toward his intended destination. Many years later he left Lubavitch and during his returning journey he passed by the same sign. He remarked: “I have learned and changed so much since I last walked by this sign, but it remains here the same as it was before.” Even if you don’t feel comfortable sharing Judaism you have the power and responsibility to direct others to those who do. You can host Torah lectures and classes in your home or publicize Torah classes and Jewish events via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter etc. You could bring a friend to a Shabbat service or meal, or even slip an interesting thing you learned about the weekly parsha into a conversation with a friend or relative. The possibilities are endless! You, yes you, have the power in your hands to make the world a brighter, friendlier, and more G-dly place. May you be successful in your efforts!


[1] http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/298381/jewish/Signpost.htm

[2] Tanya. Daily portion for the 27th of Tamuz, 5771 Igeret HaTashuva Chapter 7

[3] http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/298381/jewish/Signpost.htm

[4] Ibid.

 

The Power of Words


Will Gotkin is a recent graduate of The George Washington University and a regular contributor to GTJ.

Everybody has heard the old expression: “words can hurt.” In Judaism speech is considered very important. Our Torah begins with an account of G-d creating the world through His speech. By G-d’s speech our world is also continually sustained. One implication of being created in G-d’s image is that we have been endowed with the ability to speak. Our gift of speech is something that distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Our words could be used to build, but can also be used to destroy.

Parshas Tazria deals mainly with the laws concerning tzaaras. Tzaaras, often incorrectly translated as leprosy, was actually a spiritual affliction that was a Divine punishment for speaking lashon hara (literally, ‘evil tongue’). Lashon hara mainly refers to gossip. A victim of tzaaras was identified by a white spot on their skin. If two white hairs were within that spot of missing pigment a Kohen (priest of the Tabernacle) would pronounce that the person had tzaaras and the person would be exiled from the community for at least one week.

The only cure for the malady was sincere repentance. If after a week the person was cured he or she was allowed to return to society. However, there is a question as to why a person with tzaaras had to endure the shame of being exiled from the community. After all, it was a spiritual condition rather than a physical one and therefore there was no cause for concern that the disease would spread.

The Maharal of Prague explains that a person who speaks lashon hara undermines the peace of society and of the people living in the society. Therefore it is a fitting punishment that as a result of such unacceptable behavior a person be separated from the community and be forced to live alone.[1]

The Torah only legislates punishments which fit their respective crimes measure for measure. Just as lashon hara breeds separation and disunity between people, a person who spreads gossip must be separated from society until they have changed their ways.

The Talmud tells us that the sin of lashon hara is one that everyone of us commits daily. Luckily for us, no one is afflicted with tzaaras anymore. Nevertheless, lashon hara is still considered a grave sin. The Chofetz Chaim writes that the sin of lashon hara taints all of one’s mitzvos and good deeds done previously. The Torah describes tzaaras in great detail in order to teach us to be exceedingly careful with our words. Whenever we say an unkind thing about another we develop an ugly blotch of tzaaras on our souls. The malady of tzaaras was meant to train the Jewish people to guard their tongues. We must not only be careful not say unkind things about others, but we must also sincerely repent when we transgress. In many cases a person must beseech the person they have wronged with their speech for forgiveness.

We have all been a victim of gossip and rumors at some point in our lives. As many of us already know, even when the person who wronged us offers us a sincere apology the damage may linger much longer. A person can never put words they have spoken back in their mouth. As a result of lashon hara a person’s reputation may be left permanently ruined. This is why Jewish sources liken the sin of lashon hara to murder.

We would all do well to try to be a little more careful with our words. A great thing we can do is try to speak more words of kindness. The Talmud tells us that the Temple was destroyed as a punishment for baseless hatred between Jews. The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that the Temple will be rebuilt on a foundation of baseless love. We can all do our part to foster unity and peace in the world by being careful with the words we speak. Through our efforts we will all merit the final redemption of the entire world.


[1] Studies in the Weekly Parsha Vayikra. Nachshone, Rabbi Y., 724

Parsha Time: Part 3 — Will Gotkin on the qualities of a leader

Will Gotkin is a recent graduate of The George Washington University and a regular contributor to GTJ.

The Jew and G-d – An Unbreakable Connection

Every Jewish person has a neshama – Jewish soul – which Chassidut explains is part of G-d Himself. True, every human – Jews and non-Jews alike – is made in the image of G-d, but the Jewish people were given a special type of soul that would allow them to pursue the all-encompassing path of Torah and mitzvos. This bond is deep and even goes beyond the Torah.

This week’s parsha is titled ‘Tetzaveh,’ a word that literally means ‘command.’ However, ‘tetzaveh’ is also a derivative of the word ‘tzavsa’ which means ‘connection.’[1] In the first line of the Parsha, Moshe is told by G-d: “And you should command the children of Israel that they should bring to you pure olive oil…it ignite the lamp (until it burns) continually” (Exodus 27:20). The sentence could also be read as “And you should connect the Jewish people,” hinting that Moshe connects the Jewish people with G-d.[2]

This is the only parsha in the Torah (since his first appearance) in which Moshe’s name is not mentioned (The book of Devarim are his words to the people). Although G-d frequently addresses him in Parshas Tetzaveh, Moshe’s name is conspicuously missing.

One famous explanation for this is that G-d fulfilled Moshe’s request that if G-d punishes the Jewish people for the sin of the golden calf, Moshe be removed from the Torah (see next week’s parsha, which takes place before ParshasTetzaveh). G-d forgave the Jewish people, but still removed Moshe from this Torah portion. This is testament of how powerful our words can be and even more so the words of a righteous leader are in affecting the world.

However, Moshe is mentioned throughout the parsha even if not by name, being referred to as ‘You’ right in the beginning. Why did G-d refer to Moshe as ‘You’? The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the objectives expressed in this parsha can only be achieved by Moshe’s essence, the aspect of him that cannot even be conveyed by his name.[3]

By asking to be erased from the book, Moshe wished to invoke an essential bond between himself and the Jewish people and thereby the essential bond between G-d and the Jewish people.[4] This bond is one that goes beyond Torah and mitzvos. It is a supernal connection between Hashem and the Jewish people that is so strong that it is not dependent on Torah and mitzvos. Obviously, Jews must study Torah and pursue mitzvos in order to connect in the way G-d desires, but by Moshe invoking this transcendent, unbreakable bond established by G-d’s covenant with Avraham (see the Book of Bereshis) it allowed for the atonement of the people’s sin and brought them back to the Torah.[5]

Moshe’s self-sacrifice epitomizes that of a true Jewish leader. In the beginning of the parsha he was told that the Jewish people should bring olive oil to him in order that it be used to ignite the menorah so that it burns continually. This is because a true leader can enable the people to reach a level of spiritual self-sufficiency, to the degree that they no longer have to depend on their leader in order to keep the fire of Torah and love and fear of G-d burning continually.[6] It’s up to us to keep that fire ablaze.


[1]The Gutnick Edition Chumash, The Book of Exodus, 203

[2] Ibid.

[3]The Torah – Chumash Shemot. Commentary based on works of the LubavitcherRebbe, 214

[4] Ibid., 215

[5] Ibid., 215

[6]The Gutnick Edition Chumash, The Book of Exodus, 203

Torah question of the week: wise of heart?

Rabbi Berkman is a rabbi for Mesorah DC and leads this weekly discussion of the Torah portion.

In case anyone is still a little groggy after a late Super Bowl night, here’s some food for thought to help wake you up and get your week started. Enjoy!

Wise of Heart?

This week’s Torah portion describes, in great detail, the regal garments that the Kohanim (priests) would wear to serve in the Tabernacle. A kohain in full uniform was certainly, and God willing, will certainly be a sight to see. Who made these unique and detailed garments?

God tells Moshe “speak to all those who are wise of heart,” telling him to employ the most skilled craftsmen to make the vestments. What jumps out at me are the words “wise of heart” or “chacham lev”. The word “wise” is usually an expression of intellect that belongs to the brain not the heart. The heart on the other hand is usually associated with emotions or feelings. What is the Torah expressing by combining the intellectual properties of wisdom with the emotional aspects of heart? What do the words “chacham lev” – “wise of heart” – mean to you?

Chew on it. Let me know what you think, and have a wonderful week!