D'Var Torah - The Wandering Jew

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Inspired Education

D'Var Torah - The Wandering Jew

By: Amira Soleimani
Director of Judaic Studies Curriculum and Instruction
Last week, our amazing middle school Social Worker, Barb Kenny, briefly stopped by my office.
“Do you have a minute to come by the Green House with me?” she inquired.
Few outside of the school would know that Barb also serves as our Green House horticulturalist extraordinaire. I had just returned to my office, ready to sit down and respond to emails. Equally important, I was about to indulge in a bit of chocolate to give me an afternoon lift. I hesitated but ultimately responded, “Of course, I would love to come with you.” I looked longingly at my Hershey kiss and promised myself I would soon return to this space to be productive.
As we entered the Green House, Barb took me on a full tour of the perimeter. She showed me our blossoming (and giant) figs, propagated succulents, and our orange tree which is ready to move into a larger pot. In the midst of last week’s icy temperature drop, I found my spirits suddenly lifting in the Green House.
We rounded the full circle to the final fig tree when Barb pointed to a creeping plant at the base of the tree. “This is a Wandering Jew,” she held the plant gently in her hand, “it’s not the official name but that’s what it is often called.” For a moment, I recalled the name of this plant from my years in Jewish Studies. She continued, “Look at this,” she said pointing to robust leaves. “The more you nurture the plant and water it, the closer the leaves bunch together like this.” Then, she grabbed a dried vine hanging over the side. “See this?” she continued, “When it’s not watered or cared for, the leaves spread far apart and dry out.”

“Barb,” I whispered, “you literally just gave me my Dvar Torah for next week’s Staff Meeting. She smiled sheepishly and kept watering the plants as I stood in awe of the perfect metaphor for our people - true in both this week’s Torah portion and in life post-October 7th.
In this week’s parashah, VaYakhel (“the Assemble”), Moshe conveys God’s instructions regarding the building of the Tabernacle, God’s physical home in the desert. Moshe tells the people:
4:...This is what God has commanded:
5: Take from among you gifts to God; everyone whose heart is so moved shall bring them—gifts for God: gold, silver, and copper;
In response, the people do just as Moshe says:
20: So the whole community of the Israelites left Moses’ presence.
22: Men and women, all whose hearts moved them, all who would make an elevation offering of gold to God, came bringing brooches, earrings, rings, and pendants —gold objects of all kinds.
Key to this passage is the requirement that the peoples’ hearts must be moved when bringing the material goods forth for the Tabernacle, reminding us that intent is important in all acts of life. These verses alone convey a profound lesson about the Jewish people: when we come together as one, we have the potential to welcome God Himself into our space. Similar to the Wandering Jew plant, our community thrives when we are together and united. As our tradition phrases it: k’ish echad b’lev echad - like one person, with one heart. It is this very connection that pumps life through all of our veins. We become stronger and better able to protect each other as a community must.
This morning I awoke and saw the following posted on my friend’s social media.

May our local and global Jewish community always be strengthened by our connection. May the hostages come home soon. May Hamas be dismantled. And may Israel soon find the peace she so desperately deserves. 

List of 6 items.

  • isacs

  • ism

  • jewish federation

  • naeyc

  • nais

  • prizmah

Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit
32200 Middlebelt Road | Farmington Hills, MI 48334