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Shabbat 20 February 2015 – Parasha Terumah

Shabbat comes in at 5.09pm & goes out Saturday 6.13pm

Liz and Richard Specterman invite the communitrabbipaulsmly to join them for the baby blessing of their daughter, Hannah.  Mazal Tov to the family.  This will be at 39 Bessborough Road, Harrow.

Chanan Shuall is sponsoring a kiddush for the occasion of his 70th birthday at Hatch End Masorti Synagogue at the Girl Guide Headquarters in Hatch End.

In Parshat Terumah, the Torah describes the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) for the Israelites in the desert.  It also describes a table upon which twelve loaves of bread, or, “lehem hapanim” were to be placed.   While the usual translation is “showbreads,” it also has been translated as bread of the Presence, or more literally as bread of the faces.

The Hassidic Rebbe Avraham Mordechai of Gur liked the “bread of the faces” translation and explained that each person who looked at the bread could see an image of his or her own face.  A pious, kind and faithful person would see the bread as being fresh and warm. A cynical, mean and skeptical person would see the bread as being stale and cold. The “lehem hapanim” reflected the face—and the inner being—of the observer.  The experience of the bread varied according to the personality of the person who observed it.

This idea is also found in a teaching of the Kotsker Rebbe who commented on the verse in Exodus: “And when they [Israelites] came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they [i.e. the waters] were bitter.”   The plain meaning of the text is that the Israelites couldn’t drink the water because it was too bitter.  The Kotsker Rebbe, though, interpreted the verse as follows: “And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they—the Israelites—were bitter.”   They were in such a foul and bitter mood, everything seemed wrong, even the water tasted bitter.

It’s one of my favourite lessons, even as I struggle to employ it — a positive world view allows us to experience life in a positive way.   The bread we eat, the water we drink, our lives…are dependent upon our interpretation.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Paul Arberman



February 16, 2015