Over the past six months, we have learned to find joy during challenging times. For each Bar and Bat Mitzvah, we have created a ritual called kabbalat ha-Torah, where we deliver a Torah scroll to the family’s home. For the first time, the child puts on the tallit, and has an aliyah to the Torah, the official marking of Jewish adulthood.
A recent Bar Mitzvah family decided to do something unique. In Kohn Chapel and the Ziegler Sanctuary, we have already established pulpits with custom-made tables to hold the Torah while it is read. A few weeks ago, a mother of a bar Mitzvah asked me to measure these tables. When I arrived to their home this evening, there was a surprise. The family had created from scratch a portable Torah table that can now travel from home to home to hold the Sinai Temple Torahs as we celebrate these joyous occasions week after week.
The first three words of the Torah are Bereshit bara Elohim, “In the beginning God created.” Sforno, the 16th century Italian commentator, teaches that God created something out of nothing.
We as a community have seen drastic changes in how we celebrate. For now, instead of approaching the Torah, the Torah comes to you. For now, we sit in our homes separated by screens. But going forward, we are so honored to have a sacred table, Shulchan, that will accompany the Torah on its way from home to home. It will sit just as it does at Sinai Temple. This family truly created something out of nothing.
We each have this opportunity. As each week passes us by, what will we decide to create? That table represents so much more than four corners of wood. It represents a mizbeach, a sacred altar; a mikdash me’at, a small traveling sanctuary.
We learn the Torah is not in Heaven, nor is it far from us. Let us bring the Torah in.