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Gathering Sparks

December 10, 2023

by Rabbi Daniel Huebner

Based on the Torah reading for this week.

Much of Jewish history was shaped by the conflict between Joseph and his brothers, beginning with Joseph telling his brothers about his dreams in which he saw that they would bow to him. As the Torah relates:

"And Joseph dreamed a dream and told his brothers, and they continued to hate him. And he said to them, 'Listen now to this dream, which I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the midst of the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright, and behold, your sheaves encircled it and prostrated themselves to my sheaf.'"

Every detail in the Torah is precise. The setting of the dream, the brothers binding sheaves of wheat in the field, was chosen specifically because gathering stalks into bundles is a metaphor for our job on this earth.

Living in a world with all of its material comforts and challenges, we often experience the world as concealing the truth of the one G‑d. Often it is a challenge to feel the presence of G‑d's oneness in the chaos around us. How did this disconnect emerge? By what process does the oneness break down into multiplicity?

Think about a sentence. Although a sentence comprises many letters, it is able to convey one specific idea, as long as the many letters combine and organize in an orderly fashion to create words, and those words align in a specific order to convey one idea. If, however, the letters that form the words are separated from each other or disorganized, then, although the letters themselves are intact, the meaning and the idea conveyed by the sentence is lost.

The same is true with the creation of the universe. The world was created by Divine "speech." G‑d spoke and the world came into being. Those sentences, "let there be light", "let there be a firmament" etc., conveyed the Divine energy. Somewhere along the way, the letters and words separated from each other. They were rearranged, and as a result, the meaning, the purpose, and the divine source, is no longer legible within the universe. What was once a unified sentence that expressed the truth of reality, now appears to be no more than a mix of random, fragmented letters.

And this is where the children of Jacob entered the picture. The twelve tribes of Israel were charged with the mission of collecting and organizing the scattered letters. They were tasked with arranging them in the proper order which would allow the meaning to be conveyed. Thus, in the dream, Joseph and his brothers who were in the field binding individual, seemingly random, stalks, were creating a unified bundle.

All of us are constantly pulled in many directions. In the same day, we may have to be a spouse, a child, a parent, and an employer. We must eat, drink, sleep, feed our psychological needs, nourish the spiritual soul, and invest time in achieving our long term goals. No wonder, then, that at the end of a day we are often drained and uninspired. We feel that too much of the day was spent on trivial matters: overcoming distraction, finding a parking spot, or waiting in line at the coffee shop.

Our task is to collect the various scattered sparks embedded in the various experiences and combine them into one meaningful entity. Moving through the day we take the scattered letters - moments that seem mundane and trivial - and string together a meaningful sentence. We spend our time bundling sheaves of wheat, taking individual stalks and revealing that they can be bound together in a common purpose.

We, the children of Jacob, understand that our job is to demonstrate that there need not be a dichotomy between body and soul. That life does not have to be a collection of meaningless fragmented moments. Every activity, every moment and every detail in life can be an expression of the same intention: to fill our lives, and the lives of the people around us, with a unified purpose, to fill the world with goodness and kindness. We do so by "binding the scattered stalks of wheat", revealing the spark of holiness in every experience, organizing the letters and allowing them to express the message that all of the world is an expression of the Divine oneness.

Happy Chanukah!


Rabbi Daniel and Raizel Huebner moved to San Miguel from New Jersey in 2018 with their family to start Chabad SMA. They enjoy living in San Miguel and integrating with the community through classes, Jewish activities and social events.


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