Parashat Pekudei/ The Cloud of Uncertainty a
One of the most rewarding things that we experience, is when you finalize a work, to look at it and to rejoice in that creation! This Torah portion, Parashat Pekudei, is indeed that rewarding moment. The Ohel Moed – the tent of meeting that surrounds the Tabernacle is ready, the garments for the priest are ready and all the elements that need to be in the tent and in the tabernacle are ready. It’s like the moment in which you hang the last picture in your newly painted house, you center it, you look at it, look around, take a respite and proclaim: IT’S DONE! What a rewarding moment! You feel that you are seeing it all. There is a sense of confidence and certainty that are born in the perception of wholeness.
But usually, that moment doesn’t last for long.
In our Torah portion when we finally see the Tent of Meeting surrounding the Tabernacle, the cloud that accompanied the Israelites in their journey till that moment parks above the tent. What a disappointment. At the moment you though you were seeing it all, you get a blurry cloud above! Even though the cloud symbolized God’s presence, it also symbolizes uncertainty. The position of the cloud will tell the Israelites when to walk and when to wait. So here we go again, just at the moment we felt that we were holding it, that we were able to see it all, we realize that we are going to be led by uncertainty.
Now, making a sharp turn to our days, what a disappointment… When we thought that in America old stereotypes were way behind us, a congresswoman proved it to be wrong when she accused jews of “dual loyalty”. Symbolically this week we started the month of Adar, in which we celebrate the holiday of Purim and we remember that the accusation of dual loyalty started then, with Haman.
What a disappointment… We thought that our education in Orange county is among the best in the country and last weekend, when a group of high school students in Newport beach made a Swastika with their beer cups, and posted their picture saluting Sieg Heil, we realized how insufficient our education still is.
What a disappointment… We think of Israel as the place where Jews can live calmly and freely, but this morning we all saw the pictures coming from the Western Wall, where Neshot Hakotel – women of the wall – asked to celebrate Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of the month of Adar, and their 30th anniversary, and they were attacked and disrupted by fellow Jews that don’t think that women have the right to pray there, according to their own customs. Again, symbolically, March 8th, international women’s day, and also the beginning of the month of Adar, knowing that the story of Purim starts with a woman defying the status-quo.
Every time that we feel the certainty of being done we realize that there is a cloud above our heads and that we are led by uncertainty. We cannot predict the poor expressions of a congresswoman, the ignorance of the students in Orange County, or the unjustified hatred between siblings in the holy land. But in our commitment to build a sacred society we must transform the cloud of uncertainty into a cloud of possibility.
When our gut reaction is to stand up and say that “the left in America has become anti-semite” we actually need to recognize anti-semitism, condemn it, and work with the left in order to segregate it. When our gut reaction is to ask for these high-school students to be punished and for their records to be marked with this episode forever, rather than perpetuating for them an anti-semite identity, we actually need to focus our energies on educating them and helping them become better members of this society. When Israel seems to move farther from most of the liberal values that we identify with, we need to trade our apathy with engagement and commitment.
The reality is that life is dynamic and every time we think we are done we are presented with something else. The challenge of living a sacred life resides in our ability to rise up with the circumstances we are presented.
When we are overwhelmed by anger, frustration and disappointment we need to bring our spirits to the place in which we can offer in exchange faith and hope.
Going back to the metaphor of fixing the last picture on the newly painted wall, you hang it, you center it, and then you look around. And as you start to take a respite you realize that there are a few stains on the wall. You fix those but you know that they will come back. You cannot let those stains spread over and fill the entire wall, but you also know that in order to fix them you can’t break down the wall, because you’ll be left with nothing. And the real challenge is to find the assertiveness, the strength and the resilience to undertake the task of fixing again and again.
When we think about human interactions and the creation of a better world, the question is not how to make it to the promised land but how WE walk the walk.
This week, if after all the news we saw you are feeling a bit down, I want you to know that I understand, I am feeling down too! But at the same time I want to remind all of us that especially in these moments it is our work as community to rise up and to move forward with kindness, faith, and hope. The moment of reward isn’t when the job is done but when we recognize the opportunity to transform the cloud of uncertainty into a cloud of possibility.