Following Sunday’s Tisha B’Av service together it’s clear to me that rather than a yearning for the temple, we Liberal Jews respond to the adaptation made by the rabbis that home replaced the Temple and small synagogue gatherings the new worship.
The Jewish home is referred to as a mikdash me’at; a small sanctuary. I remind all my wedding couples under the chuppah of that meaning of home. An understanding of home and belonging is intrinsic to our communities and how we integrate home, synagogue and our own souls. This week I hosted coffee and Torah in my garden; see the photo above. There’s something about having people in one’s home that deepens connections.
This shabbat known as Nachamu, Comfort Yourselves, after the brutal rememberings of Tisha B’Av is also Parashat V’Etchanan which contains the Shema. It’s become a prayer but it’s a piece of Torah that we offer twice daily. It insists, with great charm, that this being Jewish permeates our lives, our homes and our journeys. Inscribe them on your doorposts, this was a custom of the ancient Near East to write sacred words on the doorposts near the home’s entrance, it had an apotropaic function; to ward off evil. But this evolved into the mezuzah which contains the words of the Shema and the meaning it gives our homes. I love this translation by Rabbi Janet Burden and the way she captures the Shema as a commitment to Jewish life in the most natural and easy way that permeates our homes and existence.
Hear this, O Israel: the Source of Life is our God, a single source uniting us all.
You shall love the Source of Life with all your heart with all your soul and with all your strength. Let the words which I command you this day be always in your heart. Repeat them faithfully to your children: just as you speak them when you are at home, speak them in the wider world. Let them guide your hands and focus your visions, both when you take your rest and when you rise each day. Write them on your doors and on your gates, that they may frame your passages through life.
Think about what your home and your Jewishness mean to you.
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