Sacred Space

The past week has taken me all over northern Broward county looking at different spaces to lease for OHEL. This new space will house our weekly services, adult learning, Legacy Learning Lab, and most importantly - a comfy and welcoming space for people to just be and schmooze. I'm not just looking for physical space in a great location, but a space that can be transformed into a sacred space.

This search has taken me back to my studies of sacred space in the Torah and rabbinic writings. Throughout Jewish History, holiness has been searched for and found most prominently in two distinct yet, connected realms of experience: Space and time.

Throughout the Biblical period God was met or experienced in bushes, mountains, tabernacles and Temples. Following the destruction of the second Temple in 70CE, the rabbis shifted that search from space to time. Holiness would no longer be found in physical temples but in what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel calls, "sanctuar(ies) in time" like Shabbat, daily prayer and Jewish holy days.

Despite these foci in their respective time periods, it turns out that these realms of experience are only vessels through which we experience holiness. They are not intrinsically “holy” in and of themselves. What we consider to be sacred spaces and sacred times are only labeled as such because of an experience or an intention, that was created when one or more persons set their mind to and did their part in sanctifying that space or time. Holiness is not a state of space or time, but a state of mind.

Some of the spaces I'm seeing are more beautiful than others. Some are fully finished and others need a lot of work. Some are in great locations and others are just a bit too far away. All of them will require the intention of a dedicated group of seekers to discover the sanctity that is just waiting to be found.

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© 2016 by Rabbi David Paskin

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