Friday, February 20, 2015

In honor of Parashat Terumah: A look at Hod veHadar's sanctuary:

The main colors in  the Aron Kodesh(ark), parochet (ark curtain) and table cloth are gold and blue, which are reminiscent of the colors used in the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

The Ark, was donated by Eliezer (of blessed memory) and Leah Tal in memory of their son Tzachi. It is topped by a crown of seraphim (angels) which was controversial but permitted because they don’t have faces. The front of the ark doors (which we don't usually see, because they are open during services) features a diagram of the sefirot tree, which is the Kabbalists' attempt to portray and organize the complexity of the universe: everything is interconnected. Alongside this very mystical symbol is one of the clearest statements of Torah's ethical vision:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8)
Not visible in the picture, to the left, is a depiction of the Ten Commandments (in memory of Ben Welber who made the Ten Commandments on the old ark that is now in the library, designed and crafted by his daughter Rachel Rowen). Traditionally the commandments are shown divided into two sets of five; five relating to the relationship between God and humanity and five relating to interpersonal relationships. This reflects a similar attempt to balance different religious and human paths.

This menorah (in memory of Oved and Mira's son Matan Devora; also the work of Rachel Rowen) is formed by chains pulling down and flames reaching higher

To me, each piece separately and the whole together represents the striving to achieve a balance between different aspects of religious striving and human involvement, as well as the tension between sorrow, memory and choosing life.