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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Hamakom

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Re'eh means"see." In Parshat Re'eh we learn about making sacrifices once the people enter the land. The people are told to bring their sacrifices to a place that God will show them, however the place is left unnamed.


Take care not to sacrifice your burnt offerings in any place you like, but only in the place that יהוה will choose in one of your tribal territories. There you shall sacrifice your burnt offerings and there you shall observe all that I enjoin upon you.

Deuteronomy 12:1


The word place (Makom), or The Place, HaMakom is one of the many names of God used in Tanach. This term is used many times through Tanach, beginning in the book of Genesis.


As Rabbi Ismar Schorsch quotes in a post on the Jewish Theological Seminary's website about God's names,


"God is now dauntingly conceived as the space in which the universe exists. God is neither outside the world nor a resident within it; the world constitutes a part of God. Transcending both gender and image, the conception expresses the grandeur and austerity of Jewish monotheism. It has the capacity to do justice to a universe more than 15 billion years old and still expanding.

No less important, it offers the comfort of God’s nearness. The ancient charge against Judaism was that its God was transcendent and remote and therefore inaccessible. Monotheism had emptied the world of all intermediate beings. Perhaps it satisfied the mind, but it chilled the heart. To counter this, the rabbis avowed that their God was both far and near, awesome and intimate. As the soul fills the body, God’s presence pervades the universe. God as Hamakom, the Spacious One, was meant to convey as well that one could pray in one’s heart without uttering a sound and still be heard by God. God was never out of reach. We were in fact immersed in God’s ubiquitous presence.

Somewhere between dreaming and waking is The Place.


Rabbi Schorsch has put into Hamakom so eloquently into words.


This is my poem about God; about Hamakom. When I read it to my husband last night he said that I should make sure to let my readers know that this is just a beginning of what HaMakom might mean. His poem would have been totally different than mine, as I suspect that yours might be.


I hope that this blog post gets you thinking about God. Often times in this blog God is on the edges of a discussion, but not front and center. In this post, HaMakom is the center, the edges and all in between.


This post, or somewhere around this time, marks the beginning of four years of torah poetry on this blog....So grateful to Rabbi William Hamilton, to Larry Cohen and Richard Weinstein of Congregation Kehillath Israel for setting me on this path to learning.


Kol tuv,


Leann



 


HAMAKOM



Somewhere in the space between two hands held is The Place.


Somewhere between the intersections of above and below hovers The Place.


Hamakom



Somewhere between the moment and the music lingers The Place.


Somewhere between the storm and the rainbow floats The Place.


Somewhere between a whisper and a prayer breathes The Place.


Hamakom



Somewhere between a thought and a kindness lingers The Place.


Somewhere between dialogue and peace watches The Place.


Somewhere between reckoning and responsibility settles The Place.


Hamakom



Somewhere between the particular and the universal awakens The Place


Somewhere between confrontation and cooperation strengthens The Place.


Hamakom



Somewhere between dreams and realizations remains The Place


Somewhere between the beginning and the ending awaits The Place.


Somewhere between you and the person sitting next to you is The Place.


Hamakom

It is hidden from you,

yet it is in full sight.

* * *


Hamakom

not held in one’s hands,

nor settled between one’s toes;

rather

found between one’s eyes

over one’s heart

and bound around one's arm.


המקום







 

Take care not to sacrifice your burnt offerings in any place you like, but only in the place that יהוה will choose in one of your tribal territories. There you shall sacrifice your burnt offerings and there you shall observe all that I enjoin upon you.

Deuteronomy 12:1

הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֔ פֶּֽן־תַּעֲלֶ֖ה עֹלֹתֶ֑יךָ בְּכל־מָק֖וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּרְאֶֽה׃ כִּ֣י אִם־בַּמָּק֞וֹם אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַ֤ר יְהֹוָה֙ בְּאַחַ֣ד שְׁבָטֶ֔יךָ שָׁ֖ם תַּעֲלֶ֣ה עֹלֹתֶ֑יךָ וְשָׁ֣ם תַּעֲשֶׂ֔ה כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מְצַוֶּֽךָּ׃


 


Resources on what The Place might mean


Rabbi Schorsch's commentary on names of God.



 

Other posts on Parshat Re'eh and the concept of seeing:


From Masechet Chagigah- Sometimes Your Just Need to be Seen


On Crossing the Jordan River


What Do You See?


The Blessing and The Curse























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