These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

A Dusky Holiness before Shabbat…

Posted on February 23, 2013 by Naomi Bilmes

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From my blog, written before Shabbat:

A Dusky Holiness before Shabbat…

Stories from the week…

…still on air from serendipity. It was on a Thursday, on which we presumably do organized chesed projects, but on one specific Thursday, I chose to simply organize myself: carrots, sweet potatoes, scallions, cumin, coriander, cumin, whirr whirr whirr in a blender that doubles as a food processor but we can’t figure out how the food processor part works…pour the steaming orange into a container, rubber-band it, plastic-bag it, can’t let any of the precious leak out…halt halt grrr on the bus at rush hour, getting off and gratefully walking, turning my map over and out, cautiously padding up quiet white steps, knock knock knock…no answer…knock knock again…”one minute”…”I’m looking for -“…”She doesn’t live here anymore, she moved out three months ago”…

Out the door, misinformation misinformation…there’s my flatmate, he wanted to do a good deed with me, meet me at our sick classmate’s house, but now we’re left with soup and a bike and a twisting town to our right…”I remember a cool place,” he says, “let’s find it.” We walk one round block, and there it is, a cafe with no name but with tropical trees and warm purple lights and we sit outside at the round table and wonder what to do with the soup…we order tea, magical tea, two hot mugs of water with honey drizzled, lemon sliced, cinnamon stuck, ginger sprinkled…sweet, hot magic…after a while, my phone sings – it’s her! “We’re still here,” I tell her. “How do we get to you?” Magic.

The purple sky drops down on us and the close stone walls of the alleys squeeze us in between. We turn, turn, turn back, I call her, she is our lifeline as we wind back, find the right dark alley, oh it was that one, and there she is, waving at the window. We climb the steps, the soup is in safe hands, we are in a warm room…two grandchildren listening to a woman with a story…a story of a life….it comes in bits and pieces, as it comes to her…we listen, I can’t stop listening, I want to know more, but she is tired, she must continue healing…a shoulder squeeze, and we are gone, I want to walk in silence through the dark alleys…

*     *     *

This week we read about a box. An ancient box, a golden box, a wooden box, a special box, a technical box that disappeared with tablets. Inch by inch, we are instructed, panel by panel, it’s just a box why must we know how much dust clings to each corner?…but there is something special about the dust…when the leader asked for gold and silver, the people brought more than enough – they brought it with willing hearts, piles and piles of precious metals heaped at the front of the camp. “There is too much,” the leader says, “what do I do with it all?” God looks down and knows the answer is easy.

“Extra holiness,” he says, “can always be used. Preserve it. Save it for those who will come.”

But who? Who will come?

We will. And when we do, the holiness lies on the parchment. Hovering above the black letters, we sift it through our fingers, letting its shimmering dust layer us with light, and letting it whisper into our hearts…holiness is written into the text, read it, learn it, and you will be a golden light.

Inspired by a simple afternoon and the teachings of the Ma-or Vashemesh, a Hassidic commentator