The week’s parshah is Parshat Shemini. The name of the parshah refers to the “eighth” day after the building of the Mishkah (God’s ‘dwelling’). On this day, the entire congregation of Israel gathered together to bring offerings and acknowledge God. Our middah this week is: “Ask others to join you when you do important things.” Over the past 8 days students and staff of The Toronto Heschel School have joined together to do a number of important things. Last Friday, our whole Junior High community participated in a Ring of Peace around the mosque at the Jaffari Centre. The Jaffari centre houses the As-Sadiq School with whom we have created an educational partnership over the past 5 years. Ours was one of many Rings of Peace created by Jewish communities around mosques in the GTA in response the attack on the mosques in New Zealand. We were humbled by the gratitude with which the community there received us. This past Wednesday evening, Grade 7 and 8 students, along with many of their parents and school staff brought mishloach manot to people living on the street. Each person was offered two mishloach manot – one to keep, and one to ‘pay-it-forward.’ Coming together as a community is something, we practice each and every day in our classrooms. When we come together in a minyan to pray, we focus our attention on our highest values, hopes, and desires. Tefillah, like the ancient collective act of making offerings, trains our souls, minds, and bodies in coming together to do important things. We learn elsewhere in the Torah that Torah is not in heavens, nor across the sea, but “in our mouths, and in our hearts, in order that we can perform it.”
This Shabbat may we all find opportunities to gather in communities that inspire us to do important things.