Mishkan: Sanctuary—Encountering the Sacred in Space and Time.
A Letter from Reb Elliot to the Pardes Hannah Community and
19 Av 5775, August 4 2015
(revisited in early September, later Ellul,
continuing unto the very
doorstep of Rosh ha-Shanah!)
Pardes Hannah de-Michigan (Ann Arbor)
Ahlan! Shalom aleikhem! Spirited Salutations! Yo!
I hope this finds you healthy and well. I am writing in late Av/early August. The tomatoes are swelling on the vine, the echinacea are efflorescing brilliantly, and there is a ripeness in the air.
The days are growing shorter. Yes, it’s that time of year again: time for turning and introspection.
Each year the Pardes Hannah community selects a theme to guide us through the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe). Community members reflect on this theme, and at various points during the services, share some way its key concepts have resonated in their lives. (We call this a vort—from
the Yiddish, or in Hebrew, a d’var—meaning a Word [of Torah], “a little that contains a lot.” (1))
It is one of the ways that we, as a community, do heshbon nefesh (spiritual account-taking) for the year past, while opening up new personal and communal “heart-space” for the year that is aborning. This year’s theme (as decided upon by our steering committee) is Mishkan/Sanctuary—Encountering the Sacred in Space and Time.
Stemming from the Hebrew root ןכש— SH-K-N—dwelling, mishkan serves as a rubric, a dedicated vessel that holds or reveals some Presence, where the Shekhinah abides. Community members will reflect on moments or
sites, large and small, ordinary and extraordinary, where this more has been glimpsed. This vorting (dvar-bling?) is one of the ways we teach, sing, inspire, con-spire/ breathe with each other.
And over the course of the ten Days of Awe, who knows? We may find that something magical will have emerged—that we will have (inshallah, God-willing) created a mishkan for and of Community, a place where spirit might flow like an open brook!