Messages from Rabbi Russo

February 19, 2016 - 10 Adar

Shabbat Shalom
February 19th - 20th

In Parashat T'zaveeh we learn about the sacral vestments for the Priests as the Israelites continue to work on the Tabernacle. In the Haftarah portion we learn about Ezekiel's prophecy after the destruction of the first Temple. In Ezekiel 43:13 the great altar is called both an "altar" and a "table." There is a fascinating commentary in the Etz Hayim that recalls, "Yohanan and Elezar both taught:  'As long as the Temple existed, the altar provided atonement for Israel, but now (when the Temple is destroyed) a person's table provides atonement '"  (Babylonian Talmud Berachot 55a, Etz Hayim, p. 520). What a beautiful concept about the power of the table.

As I write this message, it is the 9th of Adar, a date in Jewish history when two schools of thought - Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai had a fatal fallout. You can learn more about it here. Some people fast on this day to remind ourselves that  dialong should be respectful, safe, an constructure. We will explore this more on Friday night. it reminds me of a quote: "It is better to build a bigger table than a higher fence." When we disagree with someone, inviting them to our table literally and metaphorically for constructive dialogue can be very healing. In an age without the Temple, but with just as many differences of opinion, the table can provide atonement and ease isolation.

May we all be blessed with Shabbat guests, Shabbat time with family, and good meals around our tables.

Shabbat Shalom.