When Angels Make Love

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Dear Friends,

 

Something otherworldly was brought down at The New Shul, if you stuck around for our angel ceremony toward the last hours of Yom Kippur. Returning to the shape of the Temenos, the great prayer circle, we swayed and held and lifted and called for the divine presence to be in our midst, and then she appeared, clearly visible to everyone in the room, nothing that we’d seen before.
 
The word for the material that covers the top of a Sukkah is Schach, very difficult to pronounce, and used, strangely, in one other significant place in the Torah. It is the verb used to describe how the angels atop the ark lift and spread their wings, shading screening the place for indwelling divine presence.
 
That verb – to make cover for, to shade, to make room for, is at the core of the celebration of this festival. We build these huts and dwell within them so as to attune ourselves to the feeling of spirit hovering. We do that in the world outside, over windy meals within fragile architectures, so that we might also learn what it means to create spaciousness within our hearts.
 
At our angel ceremony, the community learned something majestic about what it means to hold this presence – what it means to be face to face, heart to heart, open widely so that soul flows between us like a river, being to being. It necessitates the most tender, gentle mode of holding, like holding a new born, or a loved one that has just died, so that our brokenness and our strength in undulating rhythms can take their place guiding our life-force.
 
When the angel ceremony neared its closure, the last two in the center just happened to be lovers; lovers of many years, maybe lifetimes, but in that moment their eyes opened onto something new. Their foreheads leaned in to one another and kissed. Watching them – we all were – I was reminded of the secret of the story. When the world is really in tune – when a community comes all the way together and holds space for suffering and for joy all at once – then the angels make love.
 
And that’s what we watched, at the close of Yom Kippur at The New Shul 5778. If you were there, you are now a witness to an act of divine shading, screening, covering, presence nurturing, and you should never forget it. Go out into the world that today is more like a windblown hut than a skyscraper, and teach it to others.
 
Chag Sameach, Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Zach Fredman

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