Sunday, January 26, 2014

Exodus 10: Non-Art Day

Vayakhel/And He assembled (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Moses assembled the entire Israelite community and said to them: "These are the things that God commanded you to do.  Do all your creative work in six days, but the seventh day shall be kept holy as a Sabbath, a day of complete rest for God." (Exodus 35:1, 2)

As we celebrated the birth of our grandson Avraham Matityahu, Miriam pointed out that Vayakhel will be his bar mitzvah portion in 13 years.
The baby was named for Mel's father and uncle at the brit, the ancient ritual of initiation into the Jewish people.

Reading Vayakhel to an assembled Jewish community from a hand-written Torah scroll will be his rite of passage into manhood.
Unlike reading in Western culture, a private silent act of the eyes, reading in Jewish life is a public act of chanting with full voice.

We photographed our new grandson the day he was born, his sister Elianne welcoming him home on the 3rd day, and the brit on the 8th day.
After holding the baby, Elianne took candlesticks, put a doily on her head, covered her eyes and sang the blessing over Sabbath candles.

If it wasn't weekday play but the real thing, lighting the candles would usher in a Non-Art Day in which we cease from all creative work.
While actively building the Tabernacle as a dwelling place for God, Moses said to the assembled community: "Stop on day 7!"

He taught that creating holy architecture in time takes precedence over building holy architecture in space.

The indestructible time architecture of Shabbat has kept the Jewish people alive throughout millennia of wandering in troubled exile.   
On day 7, we honor the divine artist by leaving the natural world the way we got it.

The brit on day 8 symbolizes the human act of intervening in nature.  On day 8, we partner with God in continuing the process of creation.