February 8, 2019 – WEEKLY MESSAGE RABBI ARNOW
Dear Kol Rinah Family,
You want to be at Kol Rinah tonight, and you want to be at Kol Rinah next Friday night too. Tonight, we’ll be honoring Andrew Rehfeld, our member and outgoing CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis who is becoming the President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform Movement’s seminary and graduate school. We have some special musical surprises planned, and it’s going to be a great service! We’ll be downstairs in the lower auditorium starting at 6pm. Candle lighting is at 5:13pm.
And next Friday night, we’ll have with us Cantor Ellen Dreskin, who will be leading a beautiful, deepening prayer experience for us, and then teaching after dinner on the relationship between our words and our melodies, and how that expresses theology. She’s a beautiful teacher and presence, you don’t want to miss this! For more information and to sign up for dinner, click here. A special thank you to the Irvin and Dolores Rubin Music Fund for helping to sponsor this!
Tomorrow morning services are at 9am. I’ll be teaching Torah Talk at 10:10am, and following Kiddush, we’ll have an opportunity to study with Dr. Rebecca Epstein-Levi, a postdoctoral fellow at Washington University, who will be teaching on “When We Collide: Rethinking Jewish Sexual Ethics,” a kind of intro to a three-part class she will be teaching at Kol Rinah through the Center for Jewish Learning of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. For the three-part class, info is here. (You need to scroll down a little to get to the class.)
We’ll also have Junior Torah Talk and Rhythm ‘n’ Ruach for our kids this Shabbat, at 10:30am and 10:45am, respectively.
Mincha Saturday afternoon will be at 4:15pm and Shabbat ends at 6:13pm.
And next Saturday night, Shira Kline, aka ShirLaLa will be with us for a Pajama Havdalah, a dance party with the moon and stars. A special thank you to the Irvin and Dolores Rubin Music Fund for helping to sponsor this too! Details are here.
Our minyan app rollout is continuing! To review, it is basically a signup and reminder system for minyan, so that we can better know how many people are planning to come, and so that we can all know when we’re “needed” for minyan. To get started, click here. If you need help, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office. Rabbi Shafrin and I, and many of the folks at minyan are willing and able to help. Full instructions are available here.
Please do sign up for all the minyanim that you regularly attend, and expect to attend, so that we can begin to know, for each minyan, how many people we have coming, and can ask others to come if we’re short. We expect it’ll take a couple of weeks for everyone to fully sign up for all the minyanim they attend, but there’s no time like the present to sign up for minyanim!
And a huge thank you to our member Michael Faccini who has really spearheaded this effort, and done so much of the work involved in making it happen!
And now for a little Torah… This week’s portion, Terumah, contains the instructions for building the mishkan, the tabernacle. In Exodus 25:31, God tells Moses to “build a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be made of hammered work…” But the word, “hammered” is also related to the word “hard,” or “difficult,” and the midrash on this suggests that making the lamp, or menorah, was difficult for Moses, and the use of the passive voice suggests, in the midrash and Rashi, that Moses should just throw the gold in and it will be made on its own.
This technique may not work for us-just throw it in and it’ll make itself. Perhaps there are a few crockpot recipes that work that way. But we have the experience of things being made as if by magic when they’re done by people whose skills far exceed ours. Someone who dices an onion quickly and without even looking at what they’re doing might make it seem like the onion diced itself. Someone who sews very well may make it seem like pants just magically repaired themselves. Someone who is a computer expert might make it seem like the computer just fixed itself.
Things that we don’t understand seem wondrous to us. And I, personally, love that feeling of seeing someone so expert that they can do things that seem just magical. In the end, in the whole mishkan project, Moses gets help from Betzalel, who is very crafty (in the DIY artistic, not clever, sense). And it may have seemed to Moses like it just happened by itself, because Betzalel made it look so easy. In this sense, the Torah may be reflecting not reality in some way, but Moses’ experience and perceptions.
What are the things that you can make look unbelievably easy that others might struggle with? And can you remember a moment you were amazed by someone’s expertise, or maybe even with your own? Because one way of thinking of these great moments of expertise is as God being present, of something being done with God-given talent by someone who has taken their gift and really honed it to make it more beautiful and useful.
God is in those fingers, those hands that make those amazing things. Can you see it?
Shabbat shalom and see you in shul,
Rabbi Noah Arnow