Tent of Meeting / Drash on Torah Portion Pekudei — March 11, 2016


Leigh Grode

As a child my first sense of home was Upstate New York at our Family Country House, we would gather, our amazing extended family, on my mother side, all my grandmothers’ family who survived the Pogroms in Belarus and got to America safely. The Stories of survival, the Balalaika, Accordion, guitar, singing, dancing, eating, seeing cousins and pinches from Aunt Gussie and Aunt Ida all created a sense of comfort and calm. This was the Place, I witnessed my Great grandmother light the Shabbos Sticks, it was sundown, my face pressed against the screen door as she covered her head and lite the candles, bringing the light to her as she spoke with no sound, such a warm feeling of awe came over me.

Very different from the struggle and strife of my immediate family fighting, yelling, violence, cursing, not the way, to raise healthy well adjusted beings. But I always had a sense of something more.

This week’s Torah portion continues the description of the wandering Israelites’ construction of God’s first home- the Mishkan / aka Tent of Meeting/ the portable sanctuary of God.

To construct it, the people in last week’s Torah portion were asked to bring of themselves of their whole hearts to construct the sacred space. In this week’s portion… The spiritual topic I will address tonight is: how do we spiritually construct our home – our LIVES? That is the essential question that we are tasked with, isn’t it?

Pekudei is the greatest love story – God asks for a place where God can dwell with us; with you and me, us. This is the Amazing Tent of meetings, the Mishkan. God Presents Gods self as a Pillar of Cloud during the Day, and a Pillar of Fire at Night, This Mishkan is Divine and in this text we have been asked, directly to create the this space for God.
We have been taught, to stay when it is engulfed in the clouds and to move when it is clear. No guessing, very clear sit still in the cloud and move in the clearness.

“Pekudei” means – amounts of… So the question is; amounts of what? Stuff; diamonds, gold, glass, wood, some would say yes, I on the other hand say it’s more, I say we are being asked to give unconditionally of ourselves from our hearts, we are being asked to look from our hearts, listen from our hearts, share without looking back to see who take from our hearts. It is our birthright to be Pure-beings.

THIS IS THE REAL WORK, why we are here on this planet at this time, despite all the distractions of the world, how do we not loose focus on building our Spirituality? What do you put into building your spiritual house? Do you know what/where your spiritual house is? What are the requirements?

Acts of devotion- prayer, meditation, studying Torah; why is it so important for Jews to study the Torah? Shabbat, High Holidays, Ten Commandments, laws, rulers, kosher, observant. What is the purpose of this business? What is this bustiness? All this is designed to teach us how to achieve the highest good; to be Godly?, No, to be human with an awareness of one another. To hesitate before saying hurtful words or giving off energy in a reaction that just hurts another. Not so simple, all these traditions and tasks are to still the mind and stay focused letting each of us have the ability to access our soul purpose. The God Spark that is in all of us. The voice, the sense of right and wrong that is deep within you. But many struggle with being able to receive pure love, this magnificent force that moves faster than a speeding train. When one has been interrupted in their development, wounds form, or scars are implanted and injuries occur, the negative voices, I’m too…. Fat, ugly, I don’t deserve, if you only new… The list goes on, the investment in controlling the secret becomes a distraction that manifests in blockage and then what happens, this speeding train of love gets block and the train is stopped, feels derailed and we feel badly, less than, and sometimes we have events; illness, fears, crisis, self righteousness, justification, rationalization keeping us separate – until we can reattach to pure love, slow down and learn how to hold the space of love/God.

In 1991, I was living in Amsterdam, NL. Late one evening, I went into a phone booth to make a call. I was jumped and attacked from behind, by three men they knocked me to the ground and kicked and broke my ribs while continuing to beat my head into the cement. During this attack, I had the experience of my soul sitting up and leaving out of the top of my head. I went up, up, into this cloud. This was a God experience for me. It was the “Most” indescribable experience I have ever had. It felt dense and sticky like thick invisible blood. It felt cool moisture but wasn’t wet, just refreshing. I was engulfed in an all-consuming motherly energy. I felt like myself but I didn’t have flesh, and a male voice spoke to me, he told me to go back in my body, I responded with “what are you kidding me, they are beating the “crap” out of me down there, I don’t want to go back down there.” And God’s response was Silence, the loudest Silence I had ever experienced it was deafening. There wasn’t any mental chatter, no thoughts, just existing, time passed and again I was asked to go back in my body, this time without speech, I aligned myself with “Yes” thinking and got sucked back to earth. This is when I understood God – to be the Motherly-Father. And this is when I started to love the Silence, a quieting calmness which I still experience this when we sing, our prayers or listen to the ancient Leguns the harmonics move through us, we can’t contain this energy we are asked to be in our hearts and let go of our thoughts, through prayers – melody – voices – instruments all this moves through us the ultimate energy. We are now living in the moment where we can be calm and safe, and take time out from our daily lives to be in this house of New Life, this home, this Mishkan with this God, our Hama kom.

So… how do I build my spiritual house? I have worked to live in harmony with my past, no shame, no timeline, willing to face all the truths, I have built a new foundation like a bridge over my past allowing it to breath so it doesn’t leak into today so I can have an amazing integrated relation with God, myself and my beloved’s. I love that God appears as a cloud in the daytime and a pillar of fire at night. My wish for you all is to not hide your truths nor use them as weapons, learn the lessons in God’s Time, not yours and smile. Say, Yes and May you take the time to slow down to listen for the silence, smell the air, watch the Candle burn, for it is Your birthright. Amen.

This is the last parshat of the book of exodus so if you would stand and join me
Hazak, Hazak, venit’ Hazek! Be strong, be strong and let us be strengthened!
Shabbat Shalom.

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