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| editorial |
| creative encounters |
Jesus Christ in Rumi’s Poetry and Parables
Martyrdom and Nationalism faith in suicide?
Insight Interview a conversation with Dr. Riffat Hassan, Muslim scholar and feminist
The Dark Side of Religion
| sacred spaces |
| practically speaking |
| voices of youth |
| focus on the interreligious movement |
| reflections |
| in review |
| poetry |
It is finished
Wring Out My Clothes
| prayers and meditation |
Meditation from "The Pageant of Summer"
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|The portion of a Jewish synagogue dais (in Hebrew, Bimah, “elevation”) depicted on the cover is significant because it is a modern rendition of two authentic anciently-rooted symbols of Judaism. One is the Seven-branched Candelabrum or Menorah (related to the Hebrew words, Nur and Or, meaning "light", (Exodus 25.31-37; Zachariah 4.2). The second symbol, also related to the image of light, and pervasive in Jewish places of worship,
is the Tablets of the Covenant. They bear the Ten Commandments, an expression of the widely-used definition of Judaism as “Ethical Monotheism”: the service of One God through ethical behavior (Exodus 20.1-14; Deuteronomy 5.5-18). Hebrew Scripture describes, in the ancient sanctuaries of the people of Israel, both during the sojourn in the wilderness and in the Jerusalem Temple, an Ark or Cabinet bearing the Tablets of the Covenant. In present-day synagogues, the Ark of the Covenant, contains parchment scrolls of the first five books of Hebrew Scripture, Torah (“Teaching “). Above the Ark shines continuously the “Eternal Light” (Leviticus 24.2).
Because all great religious symbols emerge from the realm of the Spirit, which is infinite and eternal, their meanings are multiple. Nevertheless we can say of the Candelabrum or Menorah that it represents the three great archetypal mythemes of Judaism. These are embodied in first, the biblical story of Creation (the theme of Creation); second, in the story of the Sinai Covenant (Revelation) and third in the story of Exodus from Bondage (Redemption). All three are represented by light: When the work of creation is begun, God says, “Let there be Light (Genesis 1). Revelation is expressed hundreds of times in Hebrew Scripture by figure of light. And when Isaiah speaks of Redemption he says “the people who darkness will see a great light (9.2).”
The Menorah, in Jewish tradition, is also a symbol of the attitude of Hope. This is the belief that there will be a time on earth of justice and compassion, amity and peace. Through our shared covenant effort with God that is the practice of God’s teachings we can transcend the bondage of conflict, hate and violence. Through deeds of loving-kindness (G’nilut Chadasim), we can move from servitude bondage to the idols of greed, selfishness and narrowness of all kind to the shared service of the God of all human kind. (Rabbi Herbert Bronstein)
Herbert Bronstein is Rabbi Emeritus of North Shore Congregation Israel. He is a Trustee of the Interreligious Engagement Project.