This week’s parshah is parshat Korach.  It recounts how a person named Korach gathered a group of people against Moshe and Aharon. וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ עַל מֹשֶׁה וְעַל אַהֲרֹן  the word וַיִּקָּהֲלוּּ means ‘make a community’.  But the kind of community Korach and his gang wanted to make wasn’t a positive community; it was a community based on negativity;  a community of people that formed because their hearts were motivated by jealousy, fear, and anger.

For the past few months, the children in Grade One at Heschel have been learning about a different kind of community; the kind of positive community that we strive for; a community where God dwells. The children have been learning about the two kinds of ‘hearts’ that create this community:  Chakham Lev, the “wise heart” and Nadiv Lev the “generous heart.”  They learned that when we bring together our intelligence, skills and talent– our Chakham Lev with a willingness to contribute and care — our Nadiv Lev, we create a strong community.  We create, just as the ancient Israelites did, a משכן – a dwelling place for God.  The ancient Israelites contributed their talents of carpentry and weaving, creating a  physical משכן — a portable sanctuary where the People of Israel would gather to express gratitude or ask for forgiveness, and where God would communicate with Moses.  They carried the משכן with them as they traveled through the desert to learn that a community can be built anywhere that people join a Chakham Lev with a Nadiv Lev– wisdom and talent, with care and generosity.

Today, the  Grade One students and their families and friends gathered together for the Grade One Kabbalat Hasiddur ceremony.  Together we created our own,  spiritual משכן right here — by contributing our voices, our minds, and our hearts in a community prayer, Tefillah Betzibur.  We witnessed the Chokhmei Lev — the skills each of our students has learned to be able to read the Hebrew prayers; and were each a Nadiv Lev — a  generous participant in our community prayer. Together, by creating community, we created a משכן, a dwelling place for God.

Today, as our Grade One children received their personal Siddur, we wish them much mazal, and many opportunities to use this Siddur, along with their Chacham Lev and Nadiv Lev to help build a community where God dwells.

Mazal Tov, and Shabbat Shalom.