by Rebbitzen Malkah
As we journey through Parashat Lech Lecha, we are introduced to a covenant that will set Avraham and the Jewish people on a course destined for blessing, salvation, and eventually restoration. We witness the blessing of Avraham and the creation of a covenant which is to stand for all time; a covenant which, by its very nature, will allow Avraham to be a conduit of blessing for all who come into his presence. The manner in which this covenant is revealed to Avraham three times and also sealed presents us with a beautiful picture of how when Hashem communicated with Avraham on a deeply personal level, Avraham became so divinely inspired that every part of his being would be profoundly committed for his entire life This theme of mirroring the Divine Presence to others through covenantal blessing began with Avraham and continues today through us. As heirs of the covenantal blessing procured through our Messiah Yeshua, we have the opportunity to infuse holiness into those around us by tapping into the very essence of the Abrahamic Covenant and what it truly means to know our purpose.
They've done it again. The meteorologists have diagnosed a La Nina going strong in the Pacific Ocean. Colder than normal water in the Pacific Ocean spells only one outlook for those of us in the Pacific Northwest: a wetter than normal winter. Frankly, I can't imagine that this year could possibly hold more rain than last year. But can anyone anywhere else in the country really understand the ramifications of such a prophecy? Let me spell it out for you: Noach.
by Rebbetzin Malkah
At least once or twice within our lifetimes, many of us will decide to try the cure-all diet that will fix the body's slowing metabolism. Sometimes we even become vegetarian, vegan, or lacto-pesco-ovo. Certain that this diet will be the solution, we suffer, starve, cut down portions, binge and sacrifice - all in the hope of finding the hidden person underneath all those cushy layers. But what are we really searching for buried under those extra pounds? Are we searching to relive the youth we had, the inexperience, days of uncertainty as to where our future would place us? Are we longing to regain a slimmer body that reminds us of what it is to be carefree or less responsible, now that responsibility greets us every morning with no let up? In this week's parasha, we find the Children of Israel begging for a diet change - one that is merely a guise for returning to something familiar, far away and forbidden. However, they quickly learn that their desire to change their current food plan does not match the soul diet of Hashem; the regime they need to follow has little to do with their palates or ways of the past. Their gluttonous cravings for meat are but a cover for their inability to forget their unchecked and blithe ways of old. As we look at the menu this week, we need to be ever mindful of the effect our own appetites have on our spiritual growth.
It's there. It lurks. It waits. It rains all winter, snows just as a tease, and then it hits. Growing up in New York and never seeing so much of it, I am always surprised when it happens each spring here in Seattle. But right on time, it rears its ugly head: slippery and slimy mold. It covers everything in different ways and layers in the Northwest. It is almost like the eleventh plague. And what is the remedy? Armed with glorified bleach cleaner, a garden sprayer and a garden hose, you can have the cleanest pavement, trim, steps, and decks. But as I was conquering different parts of the outdoor wood today, it hit me that what is so relevant about this mold and this week's parasha is this: given the right conditions, environment and host, both mold and tzara'at ("leprosy") have the ability to grow and afflict the host in a number of unsavory ways. And what is the cure? In both cases, separation is the remedy. As the item with the mold is tamei (unclean), so too is the metzora (the afflicted person) and the niddah (menstruating woman). In order for both to come to a state of tehorah, or cleanliness, they both must undergo a separation from that which makes them unclean. And it is precisely in embracing separation and the process towards tehorah that deliverance and restoration are found.
by Rebbetzin Malkah
You fill up my senses
Lyrics by John Denver
There are several ways that one can feel welcome or cozy inside one's own dwelling. Perhaps it is the smell of a lovingly prepared meal, or a fragrant dessert or candle filling the air with sweetness. Or maybe, it is that fire in the living room giving off the faint scent of burning wood, beckoning us to draw near and soak in the familiar welcoming smells of relaxation and comfort. Even the Havdalah spices take us to a place within the soul that cannot be reached in any other fashion. When the Golden Mizbeach (the Incense Altar) was constructed, its placement and purpose were crucial. Upon entering the Holy Place, the first element encountered would be the incense altar. This pleasing aroma of incense was not only present to welcome the King and show honor, but its purpose was also to place the Kohanim in an elevated state of mind for proper service. Only within the Holy Place would they be surrounded with this very unique scent, filling the morning and evening air. This pleasing aroma went far beyond a commandment however: it would be the very vehicle to take the soul to the various levels of repentance, shuvah and salvation.
"Give a little bit
These lyrics ring into our day a warm feeling of sharing and reciprocation. Ahh...if only all relationships would be so easy. But in this week's parasha, this is precisely how Hashem is trying to train us in order to function in meaningful relationships. Give, and in turn, the other will give back. This give and take forms the basis of how the Mishkan was built, and how the Children of Israel would operate through eternity with G-d: committing and receiving. As we walk into this portion, Hashem charges Moshe to tell the Israelites to take for Him [Hashem] gifts, or t'rumah. Not only are these gifts very specific to the needs of the Mishkan, they provide a unique parallel to the gift that we can give in accordance with this parasha today: our positive character traits, or middot.
By Rebbetzin Malkah
As we are coming to end of the season of Elul, we struggle with our own existence, the nature of our desires, and seek to find ourselves in a place that will be deemed righteous on Rosh Hashanah. Thoughts of repentance surround our days and actions. But where does all of this take us as we stand on Rosh Hashanah with the Book of Life opened on the very day when man was created in the Garden of Eden? What does it mean to be alive with our Creator?