In this week’s Torah portion, VeYakhel, we read a summary of some of the preparations which were made to create the sacred space of our Tabernacle which was used to transport the 10 Commandments.
What is the sacred space in our lives? Where do we go to be holy? These are important questions that each of us must address at some time in our lives. I recently talked to a student who suggested that she has certain places she goes when she is down which she calls her “happy place.” I wonder how many of us have a place that makes us happy. Many of you know that I love baseball and that my happy place is being on the mound, preparing to pitch. But most of you don’t know that the reason that this is sacred to me is not because I am a White Sox fan, and not because I love to play baseball (which I do). The reason that this is a sacred space and a happy place for me is that this is where my father and I bonded. He taught me to pitch, but more than that, he taught me about life when we would play catch with each other. We may have been arguing about other things but I can never remember a time when if he asked me to play catch with him or if I asked him to play catch with me, that either of us would refuse each other.
In fact, I knew he was dying when the last time we played catch, the game only lasted a couple of minutes. It was such a sad moment and yet, I so vividly remember him squatting down behind the plate and telling me to “rear back, lengthen my stride, grip the ball with the seams,” and other little baseball tidbits. One of the most sacred moments I recall was when I stood on the mound at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, New York near the Baseball Hall of Fame. I pitched, he caught, and my mother took movies (on an 8 Millimeter camera which I am sure none of you remember…)
It was not the Holy Tabernacle, it was not a synagogue, but it was and is a sacred space and happy place to which I return when I wish to remember my mom and dad and when I am seeking inspiration.
May each of us find holy spaces that make us happy.
Shabbat Shalom and thanks for bearing with my trip down nostalgia lane.
Rabbi Bruce Aft
GMU Hillel Rabbinic Educator