16 March 2024

Week of 1016 March 2024

Torah portion: Exodus 38:2140:38   Haftarah: 2 Kings 7:518:21

Theme: Tedious of Black and white Fire


In this week’s Torah portion, we have felt the richness and profound message of God through the dramatic events surrounding the life of the Israelite people leaving Egypt. Tedious that word describes this portion of the Torah. Approaching the text before I had the Bat Kol experience I am fairly sure that I would have just skimmed this passage. How could all this elaborate preparation be worth reading? Surely all this detail is irrelevant to me! But I have changed since then. Through Bat Kol, I know that whatever is in the Torah is there for a reason and I realize that there is an interaction between the written text and me “the Black Fire and the White Fire”. As Miki Raver writes, ‘bring the warmth of your own White Fire to the Black Fire, your unique interpretation to the Scripture. The Bible holds infinite potential for meaning.’(p.15)

First to the Black Fire – the text from Shemot, or Exodus, that has  been preserved, read, translated, interpreted, followed, rejected, dissected, summarized, honored and belittled over the centuries. This parashat completes the book of the wandering in the desert after the Israelite’s escape from Egypt. It is detailed description of the erection and furnishing of the desert Tabernacle as God commanded. Once the work was completed satisfactorily, the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.

Now to the White Fire. I remember that time, being the Youth editor and coordinator of PYM (Parish Youth Ministry) magazine and have a share in its production. I see the care that goes into selection of images, placement of text, aptness of decoration, choice of photographs. I know the importance of having the best possible cover. I am also a musician member of the music ministry and know about the hours of practice involved in perfecting a performance and the creative satisfaction when it all works. Very rarely does an ‘impromptu’ performance in any creative art field succeed, unless it has been preceded by much preparation and experience. Creativity involves a giving from yourself and of your self. The best products need hard work.

Yah is creative and every time we create anything good, we mirror Yah. When we create in the service of Yah, we make a worthy space for Yah’s presence; we give of our very selves, just as Yah does.

Haftarah: King Jehoash was one king who did what was right in the sight of Yah. In this passage, he makes sure that the physical house of Yah is repaired and the craft workers are well rewarded. We need a tangible place for our God and the Temple replaced the Tabernacle in that role after the Israelites settled.

For Reflection and Discussion: (1) Do you worship God worthily? (2)Where is your tabernacle? (3) Are you particular with the details of all your tasks, particularly in God’s service? (4) How are you creatively sharing in God and fanning the divine spark that is within you?

Bibliography: Plaut, The Torah – A Modern Commentary. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1981; www.hebrew4christians.com; Raver, Listen to her Voice – Women of the Hebrew Bible. San Francisco: Chronicle Books,1998; Frankel, The Five Books of Miriam – A Woman’s Commentary on the  Torah. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998.


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