Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Put Your Gold Money Where Your Love Is Baby; Before You Let My Deal Go Down (Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia - "Loser")

            Earlier this week, my wife and I brought our fifteen-year-old daughter to the airport bound for Israel. She joined approximately sixty-five classmates to form “Team Shalva” a participating non- profit sponsor organization for the Jerusalem Marathon. In order to be on the “team” and run in the Jerusalem Marathon, each “team member” committed to raising more than $3000 USD for Shalva, an Israeli non-profit that provides support, education, and training for special needs children and their families.  For the past several months, our daughter asked our family and friends for donations, she babysat, and she ran a winter break camp for little children. She also put in her own birthday gift money that she received from family and friends over the course of the year.  I was curious what her rationale was for contributing her own money. She explained that she did not feel comfortable raising money for a cause if she wasn’t willing to contribute more than just her time. Smiling, she reminded me that I am always telling our children about authenticity and integrity “putting your money where your mouth is” and “being able to walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk”.        
This week we combine the final two Parshiot, Vayakahel-Pekudie, and complete the Book of Exodus. 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. You will recall that when God gave these instructions to Moshe, God started from the middle of the Mishkan – the Aron and worked out to the walls of the Tent of the Meeting.  When B’nai Yisroel begins the building process, it begins with walls of the Tent, and then concludes 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 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). The Or HaChaim explains that there were types of givers: those whose “spirit motivated them” to give what they could afford, voluntarily and wholeheartedly. However, there was a second category and perhaps an even nobler category of people whose “heart inspired” them to do more than they could afford since their desire to share in the building of the Mishkan was so incredibly powerful. Their desire to undo the damage of the Golden Calf was so strong they were inspired to an even greater degree. Whether part of the first or second category of donors, everyone who gave was considered to have participated in this constructive process. Everyone had an opportunity to repent for the sin of the Golden Calf and for their lack of faith. If viewed as a process, B’nai Yisroel began on the outside of its relationship with God, struggling to connect to God by means of idolatrous behavior.  After its repentance and with the completion of each aspect of the Mishkan and the Ohel Moed; Bnai Yisroel began moving towards the Holy of Holies. They started with the walls of the Tent of the Meeting and finished with the ark. They started where they were capable of starting. However their goal was to be spiritually worthy enough to approach the Aron, and the Ark of the Covenant.
 When a group, a team, a community bound by a common goal, a common purpose or a common desire to experience that which is authentic; then something very special happens. Our people build a Mishkan. They experience a closeness to God that they were unable to experience either as individuals or at a lower level of spiritual development. Our children raise money for a worthwhile cause, participate in a spiritual and physical deed that tests them. They share the experience together and something special happens. They learn not only something about themselves but what it means to be part of something more than just themselves. They understand the importance of not only their personal relationship to God but the community’s relationship to God. The result, of course, is that God will dwell among the community that built the Mishkan and God will dwell among those teenagers who raise the money and run in a marathon for the sake and welfare of others.
Rav Yitz

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