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... tradition! - - Shabbat Message 2/20/15

Posted on 02/20/2015 @ 11:00 AM

People often say that God is “all around us” or “where people come together” or “where we pray.” But in this week’s Torah portion (Terumah), there’s another idea of where God is – in (or on) the tabernacle that the Israelites bring along with them as they wander through the desert. It’s not surprising, really, that the Israelites needed something tangible to remind them that God was with them - - they just came from a culture of many gods and physical idols and they were wandering around in a barren wilderness for decades, without apparent destination.

This portion doesn’t just say “they built a box” or even “they built a special box with gold and silver and cherubim on top.” It goes into detail – 98 verses of detail! – so minute it would be possible for anyone to recreate it. But, it wasn’t recreated. It wasn’t supposed to be. So why all the details?

At the weekly Torah group* we struggled with this question. Why give so many details? And we were struck by the parallels to our own BBYO traditions. The tradition isn’t to “open a meeting by saying words of welcome.” There are specific guidelines. These guidelines ensure that every meeting reflects back on the generations of meetings before. The details themselves aren’t important – it’s the attention to those details, the repetition and traditions, that give meaning.

I clearly remember my very first BBYO business meeting experience. Nothing made sense and I couldn’t understand why the boys asked if the room was safe from intruders. But I recognize, especially in this week after one of our movement’s greatest moments in our 90 year history, how central even the smallest detail can be to create something so big. I’ve been singing the BBG pledge song in my head the whole time I’m writing this, and I understanding the importance of passing down those littlest details to keep our beautiful tradition alive.

Shabbat shalom!


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