The band Vulfpack released an interesting album this year. It was called, Sleepify. The album consists of ten 30 second tracks, all completley silent. When the band released the album instead of giving free music, they were asking to receive something instead, a favor from their fans- funding for their tour.
Spotify is a streaming music service that pays artists a quarter of a cent per play. Vulfpack asked their fans to play their new “Album” on loop all night so they could raise money for an upcoming free concert tour. The fans gave back with over 4 million streams. Spotify took the album down and might not give them the money. I guess they are not in a giving mood.
This week’s parsha contains the oldest ritual still preserved from the times of the temple. All non-priests, do exactly as our ancestors did for over three thousand years. We stand and receive the priestly blessing. The priests bless all non-priests with peace and protection.
The Netivat Shalom connects the ritual of the priestly blessing to an intricate dance found throughout nature. That of giver and receiver. A Mashbiah and a Mikabel. The heavens rain down water and the earth receives it. The Sun produces light and the moon receives. The moon gives off light and the earth receives it. The universe is an intricate, interrelated web with the role of giver and receiver often changing position several times a day.
The teacher student relationship is the clearest manifestation of this give and take relationship. The first test or lesson when learning mystical aspects of the Torah is to take an apple from your teacher. Most reach out there hand the first few tries to take the apple. To pass the test and learn the lesson, you must open your hand like a cup and receive the apple. Kaballah literally means that which is received.
Next week is Shavuos, when we celebrate receiving the Torah, known in Hebrew as “Kabbalat HaTorah.” When Moshe received the Torah he was a student. Then he gave over the Torah to the Jewish people and he became the teacher. Often times we must assume both roles, our roles change or sometimes we switch roles a few times between the same people, in the same conversation.
In our parsha the priests are giving the blessings and the farmer receives them. Later on in the Torah we discuss masser and bikurim (tithe and first fruits). This is the ritual when the farmer gives produce to the priest. The roles of giver and receiver are reversed.
The rest of the Torah portion is made up of the gifts that the heads of the tribes are giving to the Mishkan. The theme of give and take is highlighted. Sometimes in life we are going to be the giver, in the strong position to help others, the teacher. Sometimes we must be the receiver and accept help and instruction. Understanding and appreciating the complex interplay between each role is a key to self actualization.