This portion, Numbers 4:21 – 7:89 is about the dedication of the Mishkan, the tent in which the people gathered not only to worship but to become community. Our “tents of offering”, our communities, are a precious and fragile thing, requiring constant care and love.
Our communities can be many things, they can be our Temple family, they can be the greater Jewish community in which we live, they can be all Israel, they can be our classmates, our colleagues, our friends and/or our families. And each of these, each network of relationships, requires a different kind of nourishing. And from each we seek something different in return. It is, in some cases, a bargaining or bartering relationship as is often the case with colleagues. But in most cases, we nourish our relationships because they provide us with something just by their existence, not because they actively “give” us something.
in the world of Naso, the idea of “home” was ephemeral as the people were still nomadic in the desert. And so that tent of meeting, that communal place of worship and community became the stabilizing home place. Today we are emotional/cultural nomads, living in geographically fractured families, extraordinarily fractured politics, constantly fractured finances and careers. So home matters crucially as it did for those desert nomads. What is home?
There are a lot of sayings about home. It is where you hang your hat, it is where your heart is, it is where your dog is, it is where they have to take you in (thank you Robert Frost). It may be all of these things, but it is much more complicated than that; but that is for another blog. Suffice it to say that the Mishkan, our Temple, our place of meeting and community, matters. It, like all our relationships, requires love and care if it is to sustain us.it is as fragile as everything else and demands our selfless service.
a belated Shabbat shalom.