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Jewish learning Reflections from Kibbutz HaMaapil during this time of Corona

By Rabbi Lila Veissid

A rainbow, a cloud, and ministering angels.

Right now, a rainbow over Kibbutz HaMaapil. You have to make a bit of an effort to see it, but it’s there. Jewish tradition teaches us that there is a special blessing one says upon seeing a rainbow. The blessing reminds us of the first rainbow, the one Noah and all the dwellers of the Ark saw after the flood. The rainbow is a sign that the world will not be destroyed: Blessed are you Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who remembers the covenant and is faithful to His covenant and keeps His promise.

This past month we read of the amazing project of building the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, in the wilderness: from the collection of funds and raw materials, through the planning and design work conducted by Bezalel -the first Jewish artist, to the construction of the Mishkan and its completion, ready for the holy work. Throughout the project, there is constant use of the beautiful expressions khokhmat halev (wisdom of the heart) and nedivut halev ( generosity of the heart), which characterize all those engaged in this holy work. Their work is that of connecting: curtains are attached to loops and hooks, planks are connected to pegs. The Tabernacle consists of many different parts—flapping sheets and solid planks, vertical pillars, and horizontal sills, and in the center, a basin of water and an altar for fire.

At the very end, when the work is completed, it says: “And the Mishkan was one.” Here in Israel and throughout the world, in the midst of the epidemic, we experience moments of simple humanity, of mutual responsibility and connection, that remind us that we are one.

Here’s what happened when the Mishkan was completed:

“Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it and the Presence of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on their various journeys; but if the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until such time as it did lift. For over the
Tabernacle, a cloud of the Lord rested by day, and fire would appear in it by night, in the view of all Israel throughout their journeys.”

We are now in the midst of difficult and strange days, the likes of which the world has never seen. We are all living with uncertainty, covered by a cloud. And when the cloud is covering us, we cannot move. If the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until such time as it did lift. I wish all of us patience as well as wisdom and generosity of the heart, until the cloud lifts. El na, refa na Lanu. Oh Lord, heal us all. Chazak chazak ve-nitchazak!


I am exhausted after my sixth Zoom meeting for today. Together with my friends from the Zayit ensemble, we met in the squares on the screen and put together a Kabbalat Shabbat. It was weird and exciting. I am reminded of a Chassidic story about Reb Zusha and his brother, Rabbi Elimelech, who wanted to check and see whether they would be able to recreate the holiness of Shabbat on a weekday. And so they meet on a Tuesday, dressed in their finest Shabbat garments, and have a delicious meal with words of Torah and Kiddush and singing. And yes, they feel the exact same joy and elation as they would on Shabbat! Confused, they go to consult with their rebbe, the Maggid of Mezritch. They tell him how they had that “Shabbat feeling” on a Tuesday. The Maggid calms them down: Ah, Shabbat garments… The teacher explains that clothing and customs are not just extras, but the essence of the thing itself. The brothers had truly summoned the spirit of Shabbat.

And we, too, in the Zoom squares, on Tuesday evening this week, sang Shalom aleichem malachei hasharet, and I think for a moment I saw them, the sweet ministering angels, peeking from the side of the screen. Oh please, let them come already. I have no strength to wait until Friday.

flower on rock

Rabbi Lila Lila Veissid was ordained by Hebrew College in 2011. She is Regional Rabbi at Emek Hefer, Kibbutz HaMa’apil in Israel.

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