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God is in the Details

03/02/2022 10:56:52 PM


My current morning routine starts by checking my phone seeking news related to Kyiv and Ukraine as a whole. There is a rollercoaster of emotion as I process the events in Europe; experiencing relief and awe at the courage and strength of the Ukrainian defendants, fear and impotence beneath the threat of nuclear escalation, and then shame as I reflect on my apathy towards other conflicts and warzones around the world. All of this leads to feelings of despair. What can this one man do in light of this unfolding tragedy?

There is a human tendency to take in the whole picture, while ignoring the smaller details. Our first impressions of a painting usually focus on the image as a whole and only after sitting with the picture for a bit longer do we notice the brushstrokes. A more modern take would be that we only see the images on our displays without contemplating the individual pixels. Yet, this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Pikudai, reminds us that the small details indeed matter. These past few weeks, the Torah has been recounting the intricate details of the construction of the Tabernacle. What emerges is a beautiful structure with gilded furnishings and carefully woven fabrics for the walls. At first glance, it is a remarkable to reflect on this holy structure that will serve as the resting place for the Divine. It is easy to overlook that it is held together by these much smaller sockets. On these sockets, Rabbi Menachem Nahum Twersky of Chernobyl noted that these sockets are not to be overlooked. In Hebrew, the sockets are called “adanim” and Rabbi Twersky comments that their name is similar to our name for God, Adonai. As such, Rabbi Twesky suggests that just as these sockets are found in the small details of the tabernacle, so too is God found in the small details of our lives.

Taking this lesson of the adanim, we can similarly look at our own self worth and potential. Surely no one socket holds together the entire tabernacle, but each individual socket must do their part to keep the whole structure standing strong. And if God is indeed in these details, then we would do well to remember that doing our small part, on our small corner of the world, is as important as the larger whole. What can any single one of us do? His or her part. While different people might have different understandings of how best to get involved, one way is to continue to support the Ukrainian Jewish community through the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s Emergency Relief Fund. What any one of us could do might be small, but what we all might be able to do together might be more of a reflection of the Divine.

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784