In this week’s Torah portion, Moses assembles the Israelites and announces that they’ve got a job to do – building the sanctuary in the desert – and everyone is needed to participate. The text actually says:
This is what God has commanded: Take from among you gifts to God; everyone whose heart so moves them shall bring gifts for God: gold, silver, and copper… And let all among you who are skilled come and make all that God has commanded… And everyone who excelled in ability and all whose spirit moved them came, bringing to God, their offering for the work of the Tent of Meeting and for all its service and for the sacral vestments… Thus the Israelites, all the men and women whose hearts moved them to bring anything for the work that God, through Moses, had commanded to be done, brought it as a freewill offering to God.
This Torah portion teaches an important lesson – value can be found in not only the gold and silver but also in the copper or brass. In every community there are individuals who can donate more and others who are able to give less. Their open heart determines their level of tzedakah, donation of money. One of the cherished characteristics of our sacred Emeth congregation is that we are an open-hearted community where the norm is to ask “What can I do?” Just as Torah doesn’t set an amount for a heart-felt offering, we at Emeth recognize that some of us can give more and some of us struggle to support our families. All are appreciated in our holy community.
The same can be true of volunteer time. Some people can take the lead, those “who excelled in ability,” but there is still a need for others to contribute their efforts. In our Torah portion, Bezazel is described as a person whom God endowed with exceptional skill, ability, and knowledge of every kind of craft. Therefore, he is designated as the lead architect, the master craftsperson, in building the Mishkan, the sanctuary. But he doesn’t work alone; he supervises others. There is a role for everyone, “who spirit is moved”.
My beloved Rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Moshe Cahana (may his memory be a blessing) taught: “It is not only what we say that matters, it is also how we say it. It is not only what we give that counts, but also how we give it.”
May this be a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace,
Rabbi Debbie Israel