For my birthday this year, I received the most beautiful gift from my husband, Ross. It was a pair of Lapis-Lazuli earrings that had been in the Levy family for many, many years. Sometimes the best gifts are those that we already possess and give away, such as these precious earrings.
We are blessed at KI to receive many gifts from our congregants, we receive toys for the preschool, food for those in need, books for our library, precious artwork, and one of our most recent donations was a beautiful carousel horse that is now forever part of our Arts Alive Gallery.
This kind of giving is deep in our Ki community and Jewish culture. In this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei, as we read about the making of our first sanctuary, or mishkan, everyone whose spirit was moved brought offerings for the mishkan. The materials collected included hammered sheets of gold and bright colored linens. The Torah portion states that we were moved by our hearts, and we brought all types of golden objects, colorful wools, silver, copper, and acacia wood, lapis lazuli and other stones for the setting of the ephod and the breastpiece.
Lo and Behold- the Lapis Lazuli stone has been one of those gifts that have been given since the time of the Torah!
I am so fascinated by the deep blue color and the meaning of this stone throughout time. The Hebrew word for “Lapis Lazuli” is “סַפִּיר”. The middle stone in the second row of the High Priest's breastplate (Ex. 39:11) is called Safir. in the Hebrew. Each stone was engraved with the name of a son of Israel.
Lapis Lazuli was used extensively in Egypt beginning around 4000 BCE, and Lapis Lazuli gemstones were prized for jewelry. Those who lived at that time felt that these stones created feelings of peace and harmony and brought them the gift of wisdom and enlightenment.
Giving gifts of our heart, are those gifts that already hold meaning for us. Sometimes these gifts may be challenging to give because we don’t want them to leave us, they hold a story of our past or perhaps we are too vulnerable to give them. But these are the gifts that will make our community stronger and richer. Our value as a community deepens with our desire to give the gifts of our heart.
Every gift of the heart you give our community has a place in our mishkan. Our community is wide enough to embrace all of your most precious offerings. As we move into a new book of the Torah, let’s remember to be strong!
Hazak, Hazak, v'Nithazek
Be Strong, Be Strong, and Let Us Strengthen One Another.
Cantor Amy E. Levy