I recently made a reluctant return to Facebook. After swearing it off both literally and figuratively for many years, I was coaxed back in. There were many reasons I left the platform, but one of the biggest reasons was the forced barrier it places against direct, face to face conversation. Social media often emboldens people to share comments and make statements to and about people that they would never do in person. It has given people this false sense of courage and security, even when it is not anonymous.
This week’s Torah portion is Parshat Terumah. It contains the blueprints for the building of the Mishkan, Tabernacle which will be the portable sanctuary the Israelites will carry with them in the desert. It also contains the descriptions of all the ritual tools and implements that will be used for worship.
One of the most important ritual vessels is the Aron Kodesh, or the ark. The Israelites are told to build an ark to hold the tablets of the ten commandments. The lid of the ark had two ornate cherubs. The cherubs were creatures with the bodies of birds, but the faces of children. They are placed on the lid so that the faces of the two cherubs are directed toward each other, face to face.
Tradition says that it was from this very spot, the spot in between the two facing cherubs that God’s voice emanated. The message we can learn from this is that when two people are able to communicate together, in person it creates a sense of holiness. It is a holiness that is lost in modern day on-line communication.
This shabbat, let’s take advantage of the moment and put aside our phones and tablets, turn off our computers and close those emails. Let’s simply face one another and talk and see what holiness ensues.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT.