At services on Friday night, March 11, lay leader Alizah Brozgold beautifully captured the moment of transition we are experiencing at The Village Temple. Please read her inspiring words:
This week’s Parsha contains an image that has always held a great sense of awe and mystery for me. The Torah describes that after the Tabernacle or Mishkan is built, a description is given of a pillar of cloud that covers the Mishkan by day and a pillar of fire that burns by night, indicating God’s Presence and leading the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. (40:33-38)
Of the two pillars, it is the one of fire that would seem to offer the most impressive symbol of God’s presence. Fire and light would literally ‘show the way’, illuminate our path, inspire wonder in the Israelites and anyone we passed on our journey.The pillar of cloud, on the other hand, has the potential to obscure and hide, although as such, it also serves a protective function.
Thinking of these two pillars led me to muse on the aspects of cloud and fire both in a psychological and spiritual context, as well as in the context of our synagogue.
In the two types of pillars, we can see represented different types of spiritual revelations. One is bright, fiery – a sight that no one can miss. I think of it as the kind of psychological insight that comes in the form of a joyful spark or celebratory “Aha moment”.
Then there is the cloud revelation. It is the quiet understanding that comes in a darker, more somber moment. It may come to us when we reflect on the challenges of life or experience illness or the loss of someone we love.
In the life of our synagogue, we also have these two pillars accompanying us as we proceed on our journey to find a new Rabbi and figure out what our community’s future should look like.
In the example of our synagogue, the pillar of fire can be seen as representing our hope and aspirations, our need for light and warmth that will bring healing and closeness and clarity. We want that light to embrace us, as well as draw others in.
The pillar of cloud also follows us. In the cloud are our hurts and our confusion. The cloud doesn’t disappear – as much as we may want it to. We may want to hide in the cloud for a while, just as when we grieve, we may want to withdraw into ourselves for a time. Yet, in the darkness, we can also find insight, and wisdom in the wake of loss. This is beautifully described in the Tanhuma Midrash:
“The eye has a dark part and a light part. One can only see through the dark part.”
The fire and the cloud are states of being that have their time or season in the life of a human being and in the life of a community.
May we make use of our cloud and our fire revelations, and remember in the words of Shlomo Yehoshua aka Stephen Sondheim:
“Where ever we go, whatever we do,
We’re gonna go through it together.”