In this week''s reading we witness the famous death-bed scene of Jacob calling forth his sons to relay to them what will happen “b''aharit hayamim” in the final days. This is the first time in the Torah that we see any reference to the type of messianic visions that will eventually become such a major theme in the prophets and later Jewish thought. Jacob, though – unlike the prophets, never does give over the details of a messianic vision. His sons gather expectantly to hear the prophecy. And yet, it doesn''t come. After his teasing preamble, he turns instead to the topic of blessings for each son. We are left on the edge of our eschatalogical seats. Just as in our present reality, the future remains a dark continent of invisible inevitability.

 And yet what is visible in the text that might be revelatory to us? One thing which stands out in Jacob''s words is the stress he puts on his sons coming together. “He''asfu,” he says, “Gather together and I will tell you what will be”. And again in the next verse, he bids them, “Hee''kavtzu v''yishmau”. Make of yourselves a group – a kevutzah - and hear your father!

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For Jacob, it seems that there is something intimately linked about the gathering and the telling, the grouping and the hearing. Indeed, messianic visions by their very nature gather us together, binding our hither-to splintered individual selves into one common narrative, one massive shared drama. Messianism at its best is about unifications, in-gatherings, national and eventually international oneness.


What''s more, I would add that it is in our people''s very gathering together that the prophecies of the end of time are themselves brought closer to their fulfillment. It is as if we have an inbuilt propensity for gathering, for grouping...some genetically predisposed sense of nationhood, tribe and shared destiny. The messianic promise I hear in Jacob''s words is that when we as individuals make the move from separateness to togetherness, when each of us is able to access the depth and beauty of that sense of being gathered together, bonded in family and fraternity, then the prophetic vision is one person closer to being fulfilled.

I am daily moved by the members of my community who have gathered here in Jerusalem; individuals who are called with an imperative to the fulfillment of our national destiny. Individuals who have chosen to leave behind the comforts and allure of the West, compelled to disentangle from the familiarities of exile, to forge a shared destiny in this complex land. We who chose to dwell here, to gather here, are – in essence - living on a prophecy. None of us know the details of the end of days, and yet we are drawn together with a sense of its immanence.

The poem below is about that promising immanence of redemption. It is about the cultivation of a sense of shared destiny. Let us gather together, let us celebrate our familial bond, our commonalities. May we gaze in amazement at the ongoing ingathering of the exiles that is occurring before our very eyes and within our very limbs.

"Destiny we have danced"

Destiny we have danced
and with the wind of our will
we have wiped away the tears
that our destiny did spill

and with our hands upon the wheel

that holds our wheels upon the road
we have driven our desire
to our destiny''s abode

and though the road stretches far
from creation''s first flung light
to the far dark destination
of the future in the night
we will stop – and take a walk
beneath the sea of stars
catching constellations
in our net of dreams thrown far

for destiny is glimpsed in

and guided by our dreams
while in waking hours
our prayers mix with the reality it brings

 so let me recall a vision to you
of a prayer thrown to an open sky
how our people have watched up after it
with long-enduring yearning eyes

and suddenly it has come back down
and hit the ground before our feet
for fate has come to fulfill the wish
that our dreams had dared to seek

and we are thankful now not only
for the grant of G-d''s permission
but for the gift of witnessing
the long path of prayers procession

and thus I come to you
offering this view of an in-gathering in an instant
of a people living on a prophecy
of community & commitment

and we gather here to witness
the long path of G-d''s own dreams
We fulfill G-d’s very prayers

with the reality we bring

So let us wander

Yerushalayim together
and raise our thankful eyes
like dreamers our mouths are full of laughter
for the sight which fills the sky

above our heads there blows a vision

we had but beheld in dreams
framed by flickering constellations
a singular blue star beams

It is a prayer shawl upon the wind
for the spirit also prays
It is a sign that day begins
after we’ve dreamt the night away

it is our flag ~
as fixed as fate and raised on high
it dances with the willful wind
with prayers and dreams
and you
and I

1Like Isaiah spoke, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord''s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all the nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Ziyyon shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Yerushalayim. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall decide among many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neighter shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2: 2-4)



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