Welcome to Awakening: Torah Mussar MIndfulness, where we at The Institute for Holiness: Kehilat Mussar meet weekly at 15:00/3pm EST on Sundays to learn from the Torah/Hebrew Bible portion that we just observed on the Jewish Sabbath/Shabbat. You may join us on Zoom (link here) or LIVE on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. All sessions are recorded and can be found at our website (www.kehilatmussar.com) in the Blog section.
Before we begin delving into the weekly Torah/Hebrew Bible portion/parasha, this week being Terumah, we pray that our Intention/Kavannah be of learning Torah, Mussar, and the Dharma together and practicing Mussar Mindfulness. We commit to learn and practice together once a week to strengthen our Middot/soul-traits and souls, to be of service to others and God/Hashem; indeed, to bring God’s Good to others.
We always begin our practice with our Kavanah/Intention for today’s practice: to do this type of practice and care as an act of self-care and to connect us with the Divine, and ultimately, to other people. So, before doing this engagement of learning and practice together we say: this is something I am doing to strengthen my own soul in order to be of benefit to others in the future; and then our last paragraph: this is something that I’m doing to strengthen my relationship with the Creator so that I can be a better conduit of God’s Good to others when they need me. (See below)
We use the first and third Kavanot/Intentions listed below for today’s learning and practice:
We have traveled far in the Torah from Bereisheet/Genesis of a very personal relationship of our ancestors, our patriarchs and matriarchs, with the Divine to what we witness today in our parasha. In Terumah, we witness a people attempting to have a relationship with the Divine, who commands through a chosen representative, Moshe. The people do not communicate with God directly, as far as we witness in the Torah. We also see a God who has moved from the protector and guide of an individual here-and-there, to a protector of a whole nation. With this shift in responsibility comes a shift in expectations from the Divine. The people, the nation, must slowly move from a vigilante justice, the personal moral compass of fearing God and thus, knowing right from wrong, to a rule of law: a system of laws, rituals, and ways of being commanded by God, governed by Moshe and other judges, and managed by the new priesthood.
The beginning of developing and practicing as a deeply, moral, responsible people and society unfolds with the second verse in our parasha:
דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כׇּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרוּמָתִֽי׃
Speak to the children of Israel and let them take for Me terumah/gift offering. From every man whose heart prompts him shall you take My terumah.https://www.sefaria.org.il/Exodus.25.2?ven=The_Rashi_chumash_by_Rabbi_Shraga_Silverstein&vhe=Miqra_according_to_the_Masorah&lang=bi&aliyot=0
Everyone is welcome to participate in building this sacred community. All who participate will be building on behalf of the whole community. God has a plan for this nation, and together they are going to build something amazing that will enable God to dwell among them. The people at first have no idea why God has asked them to bring gifts, so this makes their free-will offerings all the more so pleasant and welcoming.
And it is in the 8th verse that God finally shares with the people why they are bringing these gifts that their hearts compel them to give:
וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃
And they shall make for Me Mikdash (House of Holiness, the root of the word being K.D.SH, ק.ד.ש.), and I shall dwell among them.
God does not say that God self will dwell in the House of Holiness (Mikdash); rather, God says that God will dwell among the nation. Professor Sarna in his Jewish Publication Society’s Exodus teaches that careful analysis of the language of this verse is necessary for the proper understanding of why God wanted the people to bring their heart-centered gifts. First, as stated above, God will dwell not in “it”, the sanctuary, but rather “among them (the suffix being caph.mem, כם).” Second, the verb used “to dwell” (SH.CH.N ש.כ.נ) is meant to reflect the intention and temporality of the sanctuary, which is to say that God intended for this Mishkan not as God’s abode:
And I love this. Do you hear in this quote and understanding that our ancestors had their own responsibility, their own spiritual practice to do here? They were expected to practice orienting their hearts and mind in service of the God. They were expected to practice orienting their daily behavior to be such that God would dwell among them. They were expected to follow in their ancestors’ footsteps and model that upright, moral compass that reflected for each other a fear and love of God and modeled for the world how we are to live if we are to have God dwell among us.
Join us at The Institute for Holiness: Kehilat Mussar to begin this beautiful, holy, life-long journey in the practice of Mussar Mindfulness. For the those who are already practitioners, come make your spiritual home with us. Learn and practice Mussar Mindfulness, taking refuge in our community, in God and the wisdom of the Dharma, in the teachings of the Torah and Mussar and the Buddha. Membership information here: https://kehilatmussar.com/membership/
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In closing, we honor God, our practice, our ancestors, our community, our Torah, and Dharma. I thank God/Hashem, who enables me to be your teacher and to be here together in order to learn and practice Mussar Mindfulness.
Any questions, comments, or concerns, please do be in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We value hearing from you about how this practice is going for you: of what benefit is this learning and practice to you.
We practice and ask ourselves:
- Can we bear the burden of our ancestors, particularly when they act out with unbalanced middot?
- Can we extend compassion and less judgment?
- What can our ancestors and the Torah teach us?
- And can we integrate and be mindful of these lessons and what was handed down to us by our ancestors so that we can use this wisdom to make sure that we do not cause more harm and suffering?
Podcast Audio Below:
Awakening Behar: Torah Mussar Mindfulness, 33rd Sitting – Mussar Mindfulness with Rabbi Chasya of The Institute for Holiness: Kehilat Mussar
SPONSORSHIPS & DONATIONS:
We accept sponsorships for our weekly teaching and sitting that are in honor of someone or in memory of someone, may their memory be for a blessing. Sponsorships are $50 to sponsor one day of teaching and we include your honoree or deceased in the announcements and teaching so that we may lift up their souls and merit our practice together to make this a better world.
We also rely on your donations of any amount to offer these teachings and sitting. This donation is called Dana in the Pali, a tradition of Insight Buddhist Meditation, and Terumah in Hebrew, a tradition of Judaism. Please donate at PayPal @kehilatmussar or follow the link: https://www.paypal.me/kehilatmussar
THANK YOU! SHALOM! NAMASTE!
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