Foundational Intentions – MHJC’s 50th Anniversary (Parshat Tazria 04/06/19)
How much do thoughts and intentions matter? Can kind thoughts and love-filled emotions affect and alter our physical world? This week’s parsha seems to think so.
Our Parsha begins with a discussion of conception, purity laws, and the rite of Brit Milah, circumcision (Leviticus 12: 2-3): “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be ritually impure for seven days, comparable to the days of her menstrual flow. And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”
In these verses, the word, “tazria”-conceive- is superfluous. If the Torah was just giving practical instructions then it would have said, “When a woman gives birth to a boy, the mother needs seven days after giving birth in order to become pure again and the circumcision should be on the eighth day.” With the exception of in-vitro fertilization (and maybe a virgin birth!) any woman who has given birth must have conceived. Therefore, the Torah, through this extra word, tazria-conceive- must be alluding to something beyond law.
The famed Kabbalistic commentator on the Torah, the Ohr HaChaim says the word “conceive” is added to the verse to teach us that the thoughts and intentions, and in my opinion, the love between the couple at the time of conception, impacts the make-up of the child. The purer the love, the loftier the intentions for this child, the greater the energy will be that starts the beginning of this new life. Those intentions and emotions will impact the destiny and make-up of the future child.
We could extend this concept to the creation of a synagogue as well. In 1969, there were already synagogues in the Plainview area. The founders of MHJC wanted something different: a synagogue that would be modest, comfortable, welcoming, egalitarian, accessible and meaningful for all.
Manetto Hill Jewish Center was created from its very beginning with these heartwarming intentions, and since then it’s been the home to thousands seeking community, friendship, education, spirituality, social justice and tradition for the past 50 years.
Times change, and along with it the priorities and needs of the Jewish people, but the values embedded in the synagogue from its very formation have held true and worthwhile for the past five decades. I thank the founding families and past and present board members and trustees for making this happen. May Manetto Hill Jewish Center continue to radiate its blessing to others for many years to come.
Our Parsha is teaching us that our intentions and emotions affect our physical world. Our prayers for the ill can speed their recovery. Our prayers for a bride and groom at their wedding can bless their union. Two lovers wanting to bring a blessing into their lives and their families can uplift the essence of their future child. People coming together to create an institution to bless God, their heritage and their community can create an organization that lasts and serves for decades. The founders of Manetto Hill Jewish Center understood this secret, and we’d do well to implement this concept in our lives as well.