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Ta Shema: February 18, 2022

On Tuesday night, I delivered the invocation at the City Council meeting on the second floor of Thalian Hall. When I exited the Council Chambers, my eyes were drawn to a familiar name on the wall: Ruth and Bucky Stein Studio Theatre. I said a small prayer for him and his loved ones.

In our weekly Torah portion, Ki Tissa, we see an obscure verse:

“Make of [these ingredients] an oil for anointing the holy—a perfume that is perfumed in the manner of a perfumer—an oil for anointing the holy will it be.”
(Exodus 30:25)

The Hebrew root, Rekach, is repeated three times: Perfume, perfumed, and perfumer. A simple reading of this text is that the perfume had to be made according to an exact formula, but the verse is extremely clunky. The rabbis believe there is no such thing as a clunky verse, rather an invitation to take a deeper dive into the true meaning. 

By using the root three ways, the person who created, the process of creation, and the product created are all equally important. 

To be more precise, the text draws a clear connection from the end product back to the human being and the work they did to bring this product into existence. 

At Thalian Hall, I saw the product, one of the many lasting philanthropic works that Bucky will leave behind. However, his process and his personhood will be what most strongly live on in my memory.

Like the perfumer, Bucky crafted his life according to an exact formula and clear vision. While certainly he was not afraid to speak his mind, what I respected most about him was that no matter how fundamental a difference of opinion we might have had, it never impacted the tenderness he showed my family or me. As much as he was a businessman, he was also an artisan who curated his life so that he could live it to the fullest–a life full of travel, music, family, and love.  

May the memory of Bucky Stein eternally be for a blessing, and may God grant all of us a life as long, full, and well-lived.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Bender

Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784