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Guiding Texts

1.  According to midrashim, gifting the Ten Commandments to the Israelites was not a given.  When God was deciding who to give the Ten Commandments to, God went to the Hitites and said, ‘Would you like my Ten Commandments?’  They asked, ‘What’s in them?’  God answered, ‘Do not kill.’  They replied, ‘Our justice system is built on killing all criminals.  We can’t take them.’  God then went to the Edomites, and asked, ‘Would you like my Ten Commandments?’  They asked, ‘What’s in them?’  God said, ‘ You shall not steal.’  They replied, ‘Our economic system is built on theft.  We can’t take them.’  Finally, God went to the Israelites, lowered the [detached] mountain over them like a vat and said to them, ‘If you accept the Torah, fine; but if not, there will be your grave.’”  (Talmud Shabbat 88a)

Commentary:  When the Israelites looked up to see Mt. Sinai hanging over them, they did not see a mountain made of rock over their heads,  they saw a glass mountain, an aspaclaria, which is a Talmudic term for reflective glass.  Through the glass mountain, they saw God, and they saw themselves reflected back.  God’s eyes were also an aspaclaria, so the Israelites saw themselves reflected in God’s eyes.  

2. And God created humanity in God’s own image, in the image of God created them; male and female God created them.

Mussar ethics are at the heart of our community.  One middah (trait) the community believes in is b’tzelem Elohim, which means that every person is a child of God and so deserves to be valued and seen. 

3.  ‘Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing near him.  As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them, and bowing to the ground, he said, ‘My lords, please do not go past your servance.  Let a little water be brought, bathe your feet and recline under the tree.’  Genesis 18:1.

Commentaries: R.Abbahu said: The tent of Abraham and Sarah opened at both sides.  (Midrash Rabbah 48:9)
You have made a good opening for passersby.  You have made a good opening for strangers.  You have made an opening that is ‘stretched them out like a tent to dwell in. (Isaiah 40:22)
(Bereshit Rabbah 48)
4. ‘And there was no water for the congregation’ (Numbers 20:2). The well was given to the Jewish people in the merit of Miriam…The well returned in the merit of…Miriam.  (Ta’anit 9a)

 

Bringing the Texts to Life

Sitting in the Round

Our sacred prayer mishkan is in the round so we can see each other’s faces.  We can see God and each other reflected back when we look in the eyes of others.  We are an aspaclaria for each other. 

We sit in the round to face each other because we want to ensure that every person is seen.  We encourage all to actively share their joys and concerns in various ways in the service to ensure our experiences are heard and valued. 

Our Glass Circle Centre

Several spheres of glass hang over the centre of our sacred circle to remind us of the aspaclaria.  It reminds us that God’s presence is at our centre, and that we see God in each other. 

Our Ceiling and our Wall

Our ceiling is built as a circle to remind us of the biblical mishkan which travelled from place to place and served as a sacred space for the Israelites to thrive.   

Our back wall opens to represent the tent of Abraham and Sarah, open to all, and eager to welcome in all, regardless of your background and spiritual or communal desires. 

Our Ark/Aron Hakodesh

Our sacred space has trees in the front, from the doors of the ark, and in the back, on the wall, to bring God’s nature inside. 

Our ark is made of reflective materials, copper and bronze, that were used to build the biblical mishkan, and to represent the aspaclaria.

The mosaic inside the ark represents Miriam’s well which followed the Israelites on their travels from place to place.  Her well continues to spiritually nourish our Mishkan.

We can see God and ourselves shining back and forth from within the mosaic, from the reflective tiles.  When we stand in front of the open ark, we can see the community behind us.  The community stands behind each of us, supporting us and holding us up when we need it.

The water and God’s presence reach out to us and wrap around us when we stand close to the ark because the mosaic reaches out on all sides of the ark. 

Fri, August 23 2019 22 Av 5779