16 March 2016
After reading the final sections of the Book of Exodus relating to the building of the Mishkan, (the Holy Tabernacle) we come to Vayikra, the first reading of the Book of Leviticus. Tradition tells us that the Mishkan was built after the Israelites journeyed through the desert for one year, and that it would continue to travel with them for the next 39 years.
The Mishkan is the physical structure – the house. This week’s parasha begins, Vayikra el-Moshe vay’dabeir Adonai eilav. “And a call came to Moses and Adonai spoke to him.” The Israelites were about to learn how to transform the house into a home.
Vayikra outlines the five types of animal sacrificial offerings that God required of the people of Israel in the Mishkan: voluntary, meal-offering, well-being, sin and penalty. While the practice of animal sacrifice is foreign to our current practice and perhaps our sensibilities, it was an especially personal and holy practice for its time, requiring deep thought and connection to both the animal and to God. (The Hebrew word for sacrifice is “korban,” the root of which means “to draw near.”) And unlike the Golden Calf, which took the invisible and made it tangible, the process of sacrificing an animal takes the physical and transforms it to the invisible.
After a year of travel, the Israelites begin to transform as well: from individuals to tribes to a people; from personal behavior to collective responsibility. The power of travel – in time and in space – is that it holds the potential to transform. We rarely return home from a trip the same; we often learn a great deal about the places we visit and sometimes even learn something about ourselves.
This week’s theme of our 90 Days of Impact campaign is “Federation Travels.” Traveling to Israel with Federation is unlike any ordinary “trip.” Community is brought together and is built on Federation missions; people find each other and find themselves and lifetime connections are made between the travelers, the community and with Israel.
Federation has many upcoming travel opportunities for our community members, including: Honeymoon Israel (for couples who have been married five years or less with at least one Jewish partner), Birthright Israel (for those ages 22-26), the national LGBTQ Mission to see Israel with pride and our next Israel YOUR Way Mission (with an optional pre-trip to Berlin) in October, 2017.
We began with this week’s Torah portion – Vayikra – “to be called.” Consider answering your call to travel with Federation and learn about the impact you make on the world around you, on your fellow travelers and on our community. You will return enriched by the experience and the connections you make.