Becoming Vessels

Moshe kempinski

The Bible relates events and commandments that were revealed during an era of shepherds, kings and scribes. The exodus from Egypt, the momentous revelation at Mount Sinai, the manna from heaven and the trials of a ragtag group of ex slaves becoming a people. Is any of that relevant to a society focused on speed, gratification and self-aggrandizement?

The Torah tells us that it is , in the following words;
“And now, write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel. Place it into their mouths, in order that this song will be for Me as an eternal witness for the children of Israel.” (Deut. 31:19).

It is a fact, that the words of G-d’s revelation have been impactful on all of mankind since their revealtion. They are words that society may adhere to, try to distort or even refashion. Yet they are words that cannot be ignored.

As a result there are two prominent approaches to the words of Torah and the Bible that abound within the communities of faith in the world. In all of these communities there is an attempt to comprehend the relevance of ancient words which continue to impact civilization to this very day. One approach tries to make the words and events of the bible relevant in our lives. Whilethe other is based on an attempt to make our livesrelevant to the Biblical text. A perfect example of this dichotomy would be found regarding the very popular term “Tikkun Olam-Fixing the World”.

The origins of the term relate to an expression used in a prayer that was traditionally believed to have been written by Joshua. In the Aleinu prayer that concludes every one of the three daily prayer services, we ask to be able to l’takken olam b’malkhut Shaddai,”to perfect the world under God’s sovereignty.” That is to say, to repair a world broken by arrogance, hatred and evil intentions to the point where Hashem’s loving guidance has become more hidden.

The mystical masters described how God’s supernal light poured into the vessels of creation who were intent on receiving and not giving .As a result those vessels shattered. Tikkun Olam in that context is about repairing those vessels by engaging in sharing and giving of the light with acts of holiness.

Based on the approach of making the word of Hashem relevant to our lives , there are those that refashion the concept to simply mean “uniting all people in peace and freedom and helping them to fulfill the vision of your prophet: ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war anymore.’”.

Beautiful concept but it misses the soul of the matter.

The other approach as we have stated is about making our lives relevant to the Biblical text. It is about becoming G-d’s language in how we live our lives and in our walk of obedience. It is this walk that helps refashion us to become purer vessels of G-d’s will. Refashioning our souls to be vessels of divine will.

This is clearly evident in the torah portion of Nasso.

We read of how .The Nessi’im (leaders) of Israel, the heads of their fathers’ houses brought a separate offering of his own as “a dedication of the altar.” The Torah in a very lengthy set of verses enumerates each of the 35 gifts brought by each one of the leaders of each one of the tribes. What is most striking is that the lists are identical. Yet the Torah sees fit to enumerate each one of the lasts again and again. It enumerates each tribe’s gift separately, although each Nassi brought the very same 35 items as part of his offering.

Why would that be?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, teaches that each offering was not identical. The 72 “repetitious” verses in the Torah portion teach us that each individual can do the very same act of service defined by the same details, and still imbue them with their uniquely individual character.

They do not need to change the details and make it fit their needs or desires. They can follow the requirements and adapt their individuality into the Divine pattern. Yet they color each gift with their individual souls. Each individual soul may pray the same words, do the same things and bring the same offerings, yet define those things with the hues of each individual soul. Even as they as they are involved in the common denominator of their bond with G-d, they each bring to the experience the richness of their own creative souls.-

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved

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