Parashat Pekudei

Experiencing God In The Dark And The Light

We should strive to feel the presence of God in our lives, just as the presence of God filled the Tabernacle.

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Sarna and the Ramban offer various interpretations as to why Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting. What do you think is the reason and why?

In the Etz Hayim commentary the two holy places in the Israelite camp are likened to the two types of God encounters we experience in our lives: the intense and the ever-present. Why did the Israelites need these two different encounters? Do we, as modern Jews, experience the "theology of encounter" and the "theology of presence?"

The Yalkut Eliezer mentions dark times and good times in our lives. Is this a good way to live our lives?

D'var Torah

Our connection with God often seems elusive. Now several generations have lived through amazing scientific discoveries that allow us to understand so much of our world. Yet, we are not yet able to prove scientifically that God exists.

Our ancestors were given a gift: The Israelites were able to experience God's real and awesome might. We do not always see the grand miracles they did. Yet if we choose to see the daily miracles around us and if we work to create a relationship with the Divine, we can also have a special connection with God.

Our definition of miracle and God-encounter needs to change from that which the Israelites experienced. Too often we, adolescents and adults alike, are so caught up in needing proof that we do not stop to appreciate what God has provided for us.

Perhaps it is time to change the prism we use to perceive God. Of course, like Moses, there will be times when we cannot approach God, either due to obstacles within ourselves or the obstacles God places before us. However, as stated in the Yalkut Eliezer, we need to remember God's Presence both in good times and when life seems most difficult.

At any moment, our lives can take a turn, for better or for worse. Our job is to experience and appreciate God in our lives on a daily basis and when we have an intense moment with the Divine.

It is interesting that when we started the Book of Exodus, the Israelites were enslaved. God shows us that intense experience of getting the Israelites out of Egypt. Now, at the end of Exodus, God's Presence appears to be a constant for the Israelites. May we all learn to appreciate the presence of God in our lives. Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazeik. (Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened.)

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Lisa Lieberman Barzilai is the Regional Educator for the Union for Reform Judaism's Greater New York Council.