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Korach: Shabbat Message by Rabbi Elana Rabishaw

As the child of a rabbi, I learned early on one of the most important things there was to learn at a synagogue: who had the best candy in their office. That distinction went to Rabbi Eli Herscher who had a little red M&M dispenser in his office. For me, that M&M dispenser invited countless conversations with him, and the innate sense that I was always welcome.

During one Friday night service, Rabbi Herscher gave away the
M&M dispenser as a parting gift to Rabbi Jonathan Kupetz. Quickly, there was a new M&M dispenser, not only in his office, but in my dad’s office too.

I loved these M&M dispensers so much that they were centerpieces at my Bat Mitzvah. They lined the kitchen in our home, and guests were always surprised that they were filled.

When I went to Wisconsin for college (Go Badgers!), I brought one along. It has lived in many homes since I went to college, but this week, it is finally where is meant to be, or perhaps has been meant to be all along– in my office at Temple Beth El.

Towards the end of this week’s Torah portion, Korach, God grants gifts to the Priests, Levites, and later, to the People of Israel. The Priests are to inherit the holy offerings, and the choice oil, wine and grains that the People of Israel give as offerings to God.

In exchange for the support from the community, the Priests will not have a share of the Promised Land. These inheritances will last for generations, and over time, become a part of their identity.

The M&M dispenser that sits on my desk came from my parents. When I went away to college, they gave it to me as a way of bringing my family home to my new home in Wisconsin. Just as the priests in ancient times passed the gifts that shaped their identity to their children, so too did my parents pass on a piece of our family’s identity to me.

But more than just a dispenser of candy, the M&M dispenser turned into a conversation piece in my dorm, just like it was in the rabbis’ offices.

Over time, the simple questions about why the M&M dispenser turned into meaningful relationships. Similarly, when someone brought an offering to the priests, it invited conversation. What kind of offering were the Israelites bringing before God? Why were they bringing it now? The door was always open for these loving conversations. As gifts were shared, holy relationships between people formed.

This same quality is what instantly drew me to the community at Temple Beth El. In my first few days here, it is clear that everything is done in service of loving our neighbor, loving the stranger, and loving God. This has been true with every member I have met so far, and was especially true at the Beck Family Campus when I spent my morning with our youngest learners.

The M&M’s in my office are just one offering of myself to you.  I look forward to my M&M dispensers being just one entry point to see you in my office, around our campuses, or throughout Boca!

Shabbat Shalom,

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