Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Thought on the Parasha and Shavuot

Feel free to download and print the Parasha sheet and share it with your friends and family: Click here: Parashat Bamidbar & Shavuot

Setting Up to Move Out
Prepared for publication from remarks made at the 2015 YCT Annual Tribute Dinner in honor of Sharon and Steven Lieberman.

Many people today would be happy to set up camp at the foot of Har Sinai permanently. Just think about what it was like: We had received all the mitzvot; the Mishkan was built; the sacrifices were being offered on a regular basis; and the camp's boundaries had been delineated, and it was protected. We had all that we needed. Everything was perfect.

Why did God have to come along and ruin everything? We spent half of Shemot and the entirety of Vayikra setting it all up, and then what does God do? God tells us that we are going to have to break down the Mishkan and march forward, disrupting our familiar structures and our stability. Who needs this? Who wants this?

For one, God does: al pi yachanu v'al pi Hashem yisau. The God who tells you to stay put is the God who tells you that you must move forward. The God who gave you all the Torah and the mitzvot, the kedusha, the korbanot, the kohanim, and the Mishkan also tells you that if you stay put, then all these things will have no meaning. Yes, you will be worshipping God at the foot of Har Sinai, but the Torah was not given to remain at Har Sinai. The Torah was given to be brought forward, to enter into the land. By remaining, you will be worshipping God in a vacuum.

I recently saw a biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe titled, Turning Judaism Outwards. I saw that title and I said, "Yes. Exactly." That is exactly what Chabad has done and we-the Modern Orthodox community-have so often failed to do. It is true that we are not cloistered. We do not reject the modern world, but what is the nature of our engagement with it? It is one of Torah u'madda, Torah and secular knowledge, and it might be expressed in statements like, "It is a good thing to study secular subjects," or "One can find value in going to the opera." In other words, it is a relationship based on determining what one can take from the broader world. This is often reflective of, and can foster, a self-serving, self-oriented ethos. It is about religious growth for the sole purpose of bettering oneself. It is about building religious institutions only to serve the needs of one's own community.

Yes, we must invest in our own growth. Like Bnei Yisrael, we must spend many months, years even-a third of the Torah-encamped at the foot of Har Sinai, but we cannot let this become an end in itself. If our Torah has no meaning to anyone but ourselves, then we have failed. If our Torah cannot be brought from the base of Har Sinai to the larger world, then we have failed.

We tend to think that the biggest concern during the time in the Wilderness was that the people would say, "Let us make a leader and return to Egypt." But it was not that. No, the biggest fear was that people would say, "Let us stay put. Let us remain here at Har Sinai." If people who are moving want to retreat to a place of familiar security, how much more will a people living in security and stability want to preserve their way of life? When we have invested all our effort, all our time and energy, in making everything the way it is and to maintaining that, will we be able to move forward when God commands us?

Moving forward is hard. It requires leaving one's comfort zone and allowing for the possibility of change. It requires that one embrace creative disruption rather than run from it. To move forward requires knowing al pi Hashem yisau, that it is God's command that we move forward. It takes knowing that God's Torah is meant to be brought forth-vayehi binsoa haAron vayomer Moshe-and that when it travels forth, it can truly change the world.

We must be on guard, however, not to embrace change for its own sake. We must know when to remain encamped, fortify our position, and strengthen our inner reserves so that we will be able to move forward when the time comes."Al pi yisau" must be preceded by "al pi yachanu." If we observe this carefully, then even when the Mishkan has been dismantled, it will retain its integrity. It will still be the Mishkan, but it will be movable so that it may be rebuilt in a new location, transplanted to spread its kedusha throughout the world.

All of you who support YCT do so because you believe that our future rabbinic leaders need to fully immerse themselves in Torah and mitzvot at the foot of Har Sinai. You believe that they must learn not only Torah and halakha, not only hashkafa and kedusha, but-like the detailed laws for the kohanim-the full wealth of skills needed to properly serve Klal Yisrael. And they know that when the time comes, just as God has told them to encamp God will tell them to travel forth. God will tell them to bring their Torah into the world, to lead our community in building and growing its Torah and its institutions, and to spread its Torah through the world. They will lead us to sustain our religion inwards so that we may succeed in turning our religion outwards. Al pi Hashem yachanu v'al pi Hashem yisau.

Living the Paradox of Shavuot

The holiday of Shavuot commemorates the Giving of the Torah at Har Sinai. The Rabbis paint two opposing pictures in their descriptions of this event. One is of God holding the mountain over the people's heads and declaring, "Accept this Torah or here will be your burial place." The other is of Moshe asking the people if they will accept the Torah and the people responding eagerly and freely, "We will do and we will hear."

While the Torah does not tell of a mountain suspended in midair, it does graphically describe the awe and terror that filled the people upon hearing the Ten Commandments: "Let us no longer hear the word of God," they said to Moshe. The terror of the encounter not only robbed them of any ability to choose, it actually propelled them away from God. They needed distance in order to regain their humanity.

And while the Torah tells us that the people said "we will do" prior to the giving of the Torah, it is the Rabbis who read the more complete blind-faith declaration, "we will do and we will hear." In this telling, the people are prepared to keep the Torah regardless of what commandments may be forthcoming. They unquestionably accept and submit to whatever God will ask of them.

The first image starts with commandedness and ends with the need to reestablish one's autonomy; the second starts with autonomous choice and ends with unquestioning submission to God's command. Examined together, these images represent what kabbalists refer to as the ratzo va'shov, the running and returning, the push-and-pull of a dynamic religious life.

There are few people who can live this paradox of ratzo va'shov. To do so requires that one maintain a passionate desire to cleave to God, to submit to God and to make oneself a vessel through which God's will is realized in this world, while possessing an equally religious need to be a self-directed, independent agent, understanding that the best way we can serve God is by bringing the fullness of ourselves to the encounter and to the world.

Different people will find themselves at different points along this spectrum. For those of us who are deeply embedded in the modern world, the stance of autonomy and finding one's own voice is taken for granted. Accordingly, while we may be fully committed to a life of observance, it is too often just that, a commitment to observance. We make a choice to observe without feeling a sense of chiyuv, of obligation and commandedness. Thus, our religious avodah is to cultivate that experience of being under the mountain, of feeling the power of the divine command. We must say to ourselves not, "I do this because I am an Orthodox Jew" or "because I keep halakha," but rather, "I do this because I am obligated, because this is what halakha demands of me. This is what God demands of me."

If we can make this a staple of our religious life, we will be able to live successfully in the ratzo va'shov between unquestioning submission and full autonomy. We will be able to stand beneath the mountain and at the same time freely say, na'aseh v'nishma, we will do and we will hear.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Thought on the Parasha

Feel free to download and print the Parasha sheet and share it with your friends and family: Click here: Parashat Behar-Bechukotai

A Relationship Strained, Not Broken

We finish our reading of Vayikra this week with the "blessings and the curses": the rewards for keeping the laws and commandments and the punishments for breaking them. This section, coming as it does at the end of Vayikra, is clearly intended as a coda to what preceded it. Namely, it is the penalty clause of the brit at Mount Sinai. Thus, our parasha opens and closes with the framing of Mount Sinai (Vayikra, 25:1, 26:46, 27:34).

Contracts generally begin with the terms of the agreement, the responsibilities of one party to the other. These were spelled out clearly in Shemot with the Ten Commandments and all the laws in Mishpatim. The mitzvot and the laws, all the "dos and don'ts," are the way in which the relationship is translated in practical, day-to-day terms. After the terms of the contract are laid out, a penalty clause often follows. This is the blessings and, more significantly, the curses that we find in Bechukotai. This, then, is the natural culmination of the brit at Sinai. But if this is so, why does this only come at the end of Vayikra? Why did it not close Parashat Mishpatim?

The best explanation is that a profound rupture occurred between Parshat Mishpatim and Sefer Vayikra: the Sin of the Golden Calf. Until that sin, the Torah could hope that the covenant itself would suffice; not every contract needs a penalty clause. While violating the terms of a contract will have its consequences, these need not be spelled out in the actual agreement. God could have reasonably hoped that the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, those who first had this brit with God, would be committed to the brit for its own sake. God could have reasonably hoped that a people whom God had just freed from bondage would understand the meaning of their covenant. But, as we know, the people failed God, violating the covenant at the first opportunity and compromising the very relationship.

God realizes that this is a stiff-necked people. God, as it were, realizes that this is a people that needs the positive and negative reinforcement of the blessings and the curses, a penalty clause to keep them committed to the terms of the contract. But the shift in the relationship is more profound than that. It is clear that, after the Golden Calf, the relationship can survive even times of violation and profound strain. As parents know well, we can wish that our children will do what is right because it is right, but human nature being what it is, punishment (however labeled) is a necessary form of parenting. And punishment is just that: a form of parenting. It is an expression of love and concern, of commitment to the relationship. If we did not care, we would not punish. And if the relationship could not survive disobedience and misbehavior, if a parent would, God forbid, walk away from a troublesome child, then punishment would be unnecessary.

God's initial high expectations of us also meant that when we failed God, God was ready to give up on us. God was prepared to drop us and walk away from the relationship: "And now, leave me, and My anger will kindle against them and I will destroy them, and I will make you-Moshe-into a great nation" (Shemot, 32:10). Even when God relents, agreeing not to destroy the people and to stay in the relationship, God does not want to get too close. God is looking for a long-distance relationship: "And I will send an angel before you....for I cannot go up in your midst, because you are a stiff-necked people, lest I destroy you on the way" (33:3). It is only after Moshe's importuning that God again agrees to resume the relationship as before: "And God said, my Presence will go [among you] and I will give you rest" (33:14). God renews the covenant in Shemot (34:11-26), but God only appends the penalty clause in Parashat Bechukotai.

The renewal of the covenant, the reaffirming of the relationship, is the turning point. This is the moment that God declares that God will not give up on the relationship, that God will keep God's Presence among us even when we violate the covenant. God will not walk out on us. But how is our imperfect humanity-the fact that we will fail God, that we will not always live up to the agreement-dealt with in the renewed covenant? Through the blessings and curses. God will deal with our misbehavior by parenting us when we need it. God accepts that we are less than perfect. God accounts for this by giving us positive and negative reinforcement, and God is prepared to deal with our transgressions and failures and to remain committed to the relationship.

Why, then, the gap between the reaffirmation of the covenant and our parasha? How does the entirety of Sefer Vayikra factor into this structure? The answer lies in the fact that good, caring parenting is about more than rewards and punishments. Good parenting also means providing a good education, and it means setting up systems to reinforce learning and to cultivate growth and success. Vayikra is devoted to setting up these systems: the system of kedusha, holiness, in the Temple and, as we saw last week, the parallel and reinforcing system of kedusha in the camp. These are designed to reorient our lives and our society so that we will be focused on God, allowing us to truly abide by the covenant.

Sometimes, however, even these systems are threatened. But God, committed to the relationship, has given us ways to protect and, if necessary, restore them. When the sins of the nation threatened the sanctity of the Temple, God gave us the rites of Yom Kippur to cleanse the Temple of its impurity. God made this possible when, after the Golden Calf, God agreed that the Temple will "dwell amongst them, [even] together with their impurity" (Vayikra, 16:16). The Temple can survive the tumah of the nation.

In contrast, the situation is much more severe when the kedusha of the camp is threatened. Here we are no longer talking about ritual sins and ritual tumah; here we are talking about true corruption of society, a profound leaving of God and God's ways. And this becomes intolerable when what is threatened is the very system of kedusha, the Sabbatical Year and its profound restructuring of society as one with God at its center.

For this, no ritual, no Temple rites, can provide a solution. The punishments can hopefully serve their purpose and turn the people back to the right path, but when they fail to do so, the only solution is to remove the people from the place of kedusha. The solution is exile. The cleansing of the land, in contrast to that of the Temple, requires removing the people from the land and allowing the land to "rest its Shabbats [Seventh Years]....which it did not rest when you were dwelling on it" (Vayikra, 26:34-35). Through the lessons of exile, the people will hopefully learn the profound nature of their sin, allowing them to return to the land and once again attempt to live on it with full respect for the structures of kedusha, the systems central to living and maintaining the brit.

When the supporting systems of the brit are violated, whether in the sanctity of the Temple or the Sabbatical Years of the camp, the relationship will still survive. This has been God's commitment to the Jewish people since the Sin of the Golden Calf. God is with us through thick and thin. Even at times when we could no longer live on God's land, when we failed to build a nation on the principles of kedusha, God remained-and God remains-committed to us. "And even with all of this-when they are in the land of their enemies, I have not despised them or rejected them, to destroy them, to nullify my covenant with them, because I am the Lord their God." We have come a long way from the Sin of the Calf, and our relationship has survived moments of severe strain. And even though a drastic response may at times be necessary, it will survive because the covenant is forever, because God will always remain our God, committed to an unbreakable relationship with the Jewish people.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Thought on the Parasha

Feel free to download and print the Parasha sheet and share it with your friends and family: Click here: Parashat Emor
The Kedusha of Kohanim and Torah in the Bathroom

Parashat Emor opens with the prohibition against a Kohen coming into contact with a corpse, which would make him impure due to his special kedusha, his priestly sanctity. Such impurity would compromise his kedusha and keep him out of the Temple. Even a Kohen with a physical blemish is barred from serving in the Temple: "Any man from your offspring, for all future generations, who has a blemish, may not draw near to offer up the food of his God" (Vayikra, 21:16).

There is, however, a significant difference between the Kohen who is tamei, impure,and the one who has a blemish. The one who is tamei is completely removed from the Sanctuary and all that occurs there. He may not enter the Temple or eat the sacrifices. In fact, according to the Talmud, if he was tamei during the day when the sacrifice was offered, he cannot demand a portion to eat in the evening when he will be pure once again. In contrast, a Kohen who has a blemish is allowed in the Temple and has a right to his portion of the sacrifices: "The food of his God, from the holiest of sacrifices... he may eat" (Vayikra, 21:22). His blemish prevents him from serving, but it does not exclude him as a person.

According to the Gemara Zevachim (102b), there are actually three verses in the Torah which exclude the rights of a Kohen who is tamei to any portion of the sacrifices. Rabbi Elazar ben Rabbi Shimon concludes that the Torah needed three separate verses to address three different types of sacrifices. What is unusual about his analysis is its narrative design: He imagines a Kohen who was a tevul yom, impure in the day and pure in the evening, and comes to demand a portion from a Kohen who worked that day. "You may be able to push me away in one type of sacrifice, but I should at least be entitled to a portion in this other type of sacrifice," he says. The other Kohen responds, "Just like I could push you away in the first case, I can push you away in the second case as well." The narrative ends with the tamei Kohen being denied any portion and walking away in utter defeat: "Thus the tevul yom departs, with his kal va'chomer[logical arguments] on his head, with the onen [one who has just suffered a death] on his right and the 
mechusar kippurim [one who lacks a korban to end his impurity] on his left.

R. Elazar ben R. Shimon's use of such a graphic narrative to make an analytic point underscores that we are dealing with more than intellectual mind games here. The human dimension is front and center: a person is being excluded. This is not just a question of ritual; it is one of rights and membership. In the end, this poor tevul yom and his fellow impure Kohanim are pushed out, and they walk away from the Temple with their heads down, despondent over their exclusion.

The Gemara, however, does not end the discussion of R. Elazar ben R. Shimon's analysis there. In what appears to be a total digression, the Gemara tells us that Rava reported that R. Elazar delivered his analysis while in the bathroom! The Gemara then questions how such a thing is possible.

Said Rava: "This law I learned from R. Elazar ben R. Shimon, which he said in the bathroom..."
But how might he [do this? Surely Rabbah bar bar Hanah said in Rabbi Yochanan's name: One may think [about Torah] in all places, except in a bathhouse and a bathroom? - It is different [when it is done] involuntarily."

This exchange is not a mere digression. The possibility of Torah in the bathroom is introduced here to show the stark contrast between the Mikdash as the center of kedusha and Torah as the center of kedusha, that is, the difference between a Temple-based Judaism and a Torah-based Judaism.

When Mikdash is the primary locus of kedusha, access to that kedusha, is very limited; the Mikdash is only in one physical space and, as we have seen, true access is restricted to a very select group. Only male Kohanim can enter the inner parts of the Mikdash; only a male Kohen without a blemish can do the Temple service; and only a Kohen who is not tamei can eat the meat of the sacrifices. More than that, as R. Elazar's narrative illustrates, it makes no difference if a Kohen is only tamei temporarily or if he is blameless for his state of tumah. Regardless of how hard he argues, he is denied a portion; he is rejected and leaves despondent.

Not so in the case of Torah: Kohen or Yisrael, man or women, rich or poor, all have access. "Israel was crowned with three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship. The crown of priesthood was taken by Aharon... [But] the crown of Torah is sitting and waiting for all people; whoever wants to may come and take it" (Rambam, Laws of Torah Study, 3:1).

Even when attempts are made to push someone away - as Hillel was turned away because he did not have the fee to enter the beit midrash (Yoma 35b) - the Torah is still there waiting. If one is committed and perseveres one will get a portion in Torah and be allowed in. And impurity is no obstacle, for "the words of Torah are not susceptible to impurity" (Berachot 22a).

Torah is different from the Mikdash in another way as well. In addition to being accessible to all people, it can also be accessed in all places. The bathhouse and the bathroom are the only two places that Torah cannot be learned, and even these exclusions are not absolute. For as the Talmud tells us, if a person can't control his thinking he cannot be faulted for learning Torah in the bathroom! Unlike the tevul yom who is pushed away through no fault of his own, R. Elazar's statement is remembered, accepted, and passed down. Not only is he not to blame, but his Torah - even a Torah that emerged from the bathroom - remains pure and untainted.

Let us not forget that R. Elazar did more than just think Torah in the bathroom; he actually verbalized it and taught it to others. The Talmud's argument that "he could not control it" presumably means that he couldn't hold his thoughts in his head, and the only way he could stop thinking about it was to talk about it. For many of us, this would seem to be a serious affront to the words of Torah, and yet the teaching remains untainted. Truly, the words of Torah do not receive impurity! Such is the difference between the kedusha of the Torah and that of the Mikdash!

In thinking about our own communities and practices, we must consider whether we are guided by the Mikdash or the Torah model. There are undoubtedly certain instances in which the Mikdash paradigm would be appropriate, where we want to emphasize hierarchy and limited access to the holy. Even in such cases, we would be well-advised to remember the difference between the person who is tamei and the person who has a blemish. Tumah is a state inherently antithetical to the kedusha of the Mikdash. Some people may have certain character traits or behaviors that warrant a full exclusion, but external, nonessential issues - blemishes, disabilities, and other limitations - should never lead to a person's real or felt exclusion from the community. The Kohen with a blemish is not only able to eat the sacrifices, but he has full rights to them as well.

We, however, live in a post-Mikdash reality. We live in a religious world whose center is the Torah, not the Temple. This world, with its inclusivist and universalist ethos, is what should most define our practices and our community. This is a kedusha of universal access: All can get to it, and if they cannot, we must make it possible for them to do so. And it can get to all people, everywhere - in their synagogues, study halls, workplaces, and even in their bathrooms. And wherever it reaches, wherever it is learned, it will remain holy and connect us to the source of all that is holy.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Thought on the Parasha

Feel free to download and print the Parasha sheet and share it with your friends and family: Click here: Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim
Two Types of Kedusha

Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim represents the transition from the first half of Vayikra to the second. The first half is focused solely on the Temple, its holiness and the sacrifices conducted therein. Tazria-Metzorah, last week's double parasha, continued this theme, detailing the various ritual impurities, the tumot, that would require a person to be sent out of the camp and prevent his or her access to the Temple. This week, in Acharei Mot, the Torah limits access not to the Temple itself, but to the Holy of Holies.

"Speak to Aharon your brother, that he may not enter at all times into the Holy... Only with this may Aharon enter into the Holy" (Vayikra, 16:2-3). Aharon is singled out because he is the Kohen Gadol; normal kohanim are never allowed to enter. Even Aharon is only allowed to enter on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and only after completing exacting sacrificial rites.

Clearly, gaining access to the Temple, the place of God's presence, is not a trivial matter. With the Temple so inaccessible - at times both geographically and ritually - it would stand to reason that a person may want to reach out to God by bringing a sacrifice without the Temple. This option is denied as well, as the bringing of such sacrifices is prohibited in the middle of Acharei Mot. That the first half of Vayikra ends with this prohibition underscores just how difficult it is to connect to God through the Temple.

Beginning the second half of Vayikra, Kedoshim presents a radically different approach to holiness and to connecting with God. "Speak to the entire congregation of Israel and say to them: Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy" (Vayikra, 19:2). To access the holy is not to enter the Temple, it is to strive to become holy. To connect to God is not to enter into the Holy of Holies, but to strive to be like God. It is through such striving that we actualize the holiness, the divine, the tzelem elohim, that is in each and every one of us.

There are, then, two types of holiness, two types of kedusha. There is the kedusha of Acharei Mot and the kedusha of kedoshim ti'hiyu, "you shall be holy." In other words, there is a kedusha that conceives of God as residing in a place, and there is a kedusha that perceives of God as residing in each and every person.

The first represents the attempt to draw close to God, to enter into God's abode. It is thus a kedusha that is restrictive, one of limited access. For what human being can leave this world and enter into the place where God dwells? The second is holiness whose goal is not to leave this world to be close to God. Its goal is to actualize the divine within us, to bring God and Godliness into this world. It is a kedusha that is accessible by all.

Kedoshim opens not with "daber el Aharon achikha," "Speak to Aharon your brother," but "daber el kol adat benei Yisrael," "speak to the entire congregation of Israel." All of you - man, woman, child, ritually pure, and ritually impure - each one of you can become holy, can become like God. This is a holiness that includes rituals and rites to be sure, but it is also a holiness of morality, a holiness that touches on every act, religious or interpersonal. It touches every detail of how we live our lives.

How does one live such a life of holiness? One strives for Godliness in all actions. One does not only connect to God during ritual or "religious" activity; one also brings an awareness of God into his or her interpersonal exchanges. Kedoshim ti'hiyu is a holiness that demands ethical behavior in all spheres.

Thus we find that Kedoshim opens with two mitzvot: the mitzvah to have awe and respect for one's parents and the mitzvah to keep Shabbat, an ethical commandment and a religious one. The foundation of our interpersonal behavior in life is laid in the home; it starts with and is shaped by how children interact with their parents. And the foundation of holiness is not the Temple with its difficult and limited access; it is Shabbat, a staple of our week, a holiness that all can experience, a welcoming of the Divine Presence into our homes.

The rest of Kedoshim presents a dense and varied listing of mitzvot, with almost every other verse ending with the refrain, "ani Hashem eloheikhem," "I am the Lord your God." This echoes the opening verse, "Be holy, for holy am I the Lord your God." The Torah is telling us: This is what it means to be holy, to be like God. If we are to live a life of this type of holiness, then we must bring God into our harvesting of grain, our buying and selling, our hiring and paying of workers, our dealing with the disadvantaged, our speaking of others, and our feelings towards others. To have access to God everywhere means that we cannot compartmentalize our religious life away from our "normal" life. God can be found in every activity, thus we must strive to find God in all parts of our lives.

In his introduction to Vayikra, Ramban notes that the purpose of constructing the Mishkan was to recreate Har Sinai in the Israelite camp. Just as God's presence came down onto Har Sinai, God's presence filled the Mishkan. Just as boundaries were set around the mountain to prevent the people from "bursting through," impure people were kept outside the Temple. And, one might add, just as Moshe and Aharon alone were allowed to go to the top of the mountain, only Aharon is allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies.

So ends Ramban's parallel, but one thing is missing. For after God descends on Har Sinai, something important happens: the Torah is given. The purpose of the descent was not so that we might go up the mountain to draw close to God's presence; the purpose of the descent was so that God may command us in the mitzvot of the Torah.

The parallel to the Giving of the Torah is not the Mishkan; it is Parashat Kedoshim. Many commentators have already noted that the mitzvot at the beginning of Kedoshim parallel the Ten Commandments. More than that, parashat Kedoshim serves as the culmination and translation of all that came before. The purpose of the Mishkan was not for the sake of "with this Aharon may enter the sanctum". Its purpose was so that God may dwell in our midst, so that we can live a life of holiness. The kedushaof Acharei Mot serves to bring about the kedusha of Kedoshim.

Even in our religious strivings, as we try to come close to God, the ultimate kedusha is a life of mitzvot, a life of actualizing the divine within us; a life in which God is accessible to every person, a life in which God is present in all of our actions.

Shabbat Shalom!