Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi Dalton ~ Tetzaveh 2022

Dear WJC Family,

This week in tefillah with the 6th and 7th graders we learned about Mah Rabu (Psalm 104:24) which reads:

How many/wondrous are the things You have made, Adonai;
You have made them all with wisdom;
the earth is full of Your creations/possessions/riches.

Together with this verse, we discussed Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s entreaty for us to look at the world with radical amazement, taking nothing for granted. It can be difficult to look at the world with eyes full of wonder, even (or especially) at ages 11 and 12. We talked about how shifting our perspective might change our experience of the world and even our understanding of it.

The teens gathered on Tuesday evening for dinner and Jewish cookie art inspired by Dr. Ella Hawkins (you can take a look at her creations here, and a veritable feast of modern midrash took place through their cookies. We saw a googley-eyed Moses crossing a frosting Red Sea, a glitter-red frosting apple that Adam and Chava ate – with bite taken out – and as many blue-and-white iterations of the Israeli flag (large, small, smudged, bedazzled!) as you could imagine.

When the future is uncertain, embracing an attitude of wonder and amazement seems counter-intuitive. I can imagine the way your eyes are looking back at me from above your masks.

Our liturgy reminds us daily that we are reflections of a wise and wondrous God. Our children remind us that, even on dreary February days, we are capable of creating something beautiful and dreaming big dreams. Our community reminds us that we belong to one another, with all the richness that entails. We are alive and the world is still turning, and there is goodness left to be discovered.

I invited the 6th and 7th graders this week to practice orienting themselves towards Mah Rabu moments – moments where we realize we can experience the unexpected joy and delight of being alive – and to share them the next time we meet. I extend that invitation to you as well. Maybe it’s seeing a pineapple bloom for the first time, maybe it’s a cardinal outside of your window, maybe it’s sitting in your car waiting for someone you love. Whatever it might be, in the words of Mary Oliver: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell [us] about it.”

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Dalton

P.S. Earlier this week an invitation to my installation on March 6th went out to the congregation, and I look forward to celebrating with you! In the weeks leading to March 6, I’ll be teaching from Megillat Esther, a text which grapples with the hiddenness of God in a violent and broken world, of enduring faith and finding courage. Please keep an eye out for opportunities to join in. The installation on March 6 is for everyone, grown-ups and kids alike.

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