Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You're Lost Sailor You've Been Too Long At Sea (John Barlow & Bob Weir - "Lost Sailor")

           The Winter Olympics have been all the talk in our house. The Olympics have also been about the only thing on our television as well. Among the most fascinating aspects of the Olympics has been watching my children watch the various events. Certainly they have been exposed to a myriad of sports. My son cannot wait to start doing the snow board half-pike course. Seriously though, our children were amazed when they heard the story about the Canadian Men’s speed skater give up his place in a particular event and gave his spot to a teammate that had a better chance of winning a medal. That speed skater’s sacrifice proved prophetic as the teammate earned a medal. Our children were in awe of this selfless act, they were in awe of placing the team before the individual. They were in awe of all those hours of practice and the opportunity to shine replaced by the opportunity for the team to earn a medal. We talked about the importance of placing the team before the individual as well as the joy of being part of something greater than just individual goals.
This week’s Pasha is Vayakahel. Following the sin of the Golden Calf and Teshuvah (repentance), B’nai Yisroel begins executing God’s instructions for the Mishkan, the Ark, and the Tent of the Meeting. We recall that when God gave these instructions to Moshe, God started from the middle of the structure (the holiest point of the structure) and worked out towards the outer walls of the structure. God gave instructions beginning with the building of the Aron (the Ark), and concluding with the walls of the Tent of the Meeting. When B’nai Yisroel begins the building process, they begin with walls of the Tent, and then conclude with the altar and finally the Ark. 
After the destructive behavior of worshipping the Golden Calf, B’nai Yisroel comes together, and shares a common constructive experience bound by a common goal. Their goal is to complete the construction of the Mishkan. The common experience is their contributions to of raw materials. V’Yavo’u  kol Ish Asher Nasahu Libo V’chol Asher Nadvah Rucho- Every man whose heart inspired him came; and everyone whose spirit motivated him brought the portion of God for the work of the Tent of the Meeting, for all its labor and for the sacred clothing (Ex.35:21). By participating in this constructive process, everyone had an opportunity to repent for the sin of the Golden Calf and for its lack of faith. First, B’nai Yisroel began on the fringes with its idolatrous activity. Then, and after Bnai Yisroel repented, it began moving towards the Holy of Holies. First they built the walls of the Tent of the Meeting; then the altar, and, finally, the Holy of Holies.
When the community shares a commons sense of purpose, something wonderful happens. We achieve that balance between God and ourselves. The result, of course, is that God will dwell among us. God’s dwelling among us makes our community a little warmer, a little kinder, and more significant. Third, we also learn that the actual process of building requires hard work. B’nai Yisroel, like any team, shared in the task’s difficulty. Greater participation made the experience that much more meaningful. When the experience is more meaningful, then the reward will be greater. What is the reward? The reward is a community that shares simchas and tsuris, victories as well as defeats. The reward is that no individual member of the community should ever feel alienated and alone. The reward is a community that strives for growth and improvement. This brings more meaning to the life of the individual, the family, and the community.

Rav Yitz

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