This week in Shul we will read Vayakhel-Pekudei. Although of course we wont. Some will read it at home. Some will read it with family. And some will watch it on a live stream. But however you are engaging with this week’s parasha, it almost certainly won’t be in a synagogue, anywhere in the world.
This has been a real topsy turvey week. Nothing makes sense. Nobody has seen this before. Not through two world wars, not through major world catastrophes. This really is unprecedented.
In Vayakhel-Pekudei the People of Israel are given the instructions on how to build the Mishkan (tabernacle). They are asked to donate the required materials. They give so generously that Moses has to ask them to stop giving.
What an incredible thing to learn from our history. That our ancestors were so generous and brought resources in abundance, that they had to be asked to not bring any more. At the moment, during this pandemic, some resources are becoming hard to come by. The necessities that the most vulnerable in our societies require simply to get by. Wouldn’t it be so fantastic if history were to repeat itself now, and we, the modern day people of Israel, were to give so generously, in such abundance, that we had to be asked to stop.
It is through this generosity that the Mishkan is able to be completed.
The next 3 months, maybe longer, are going to be a challenging time. We are building new communities, learning new ways of interacting, and generally needing to find our way through a dimly lit and never trodden path. But we, as the global Jewish community, must and no doubt will come together, to build our own modern day (and maybe digital) Mishkan, giving in abundance to ensure that it can be built in such a beautiful way and that we can all be proud of.
In Pirkei Avot – the Ethics of our Fathers – Chapter 2 verse 21 we learn that “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it”.
This is the lesson of the moment. It is not for each of us to find the cure, to feed the world and to protect the vulnerable. But nor can we ignore their needs at this time and, if we can help without putting ourselves at unnecessary risk, then we not only should, but we must.
The UJS community is a truly special one and one that I am proud to be able to be a part of. Now is our chance to stand up and be counted, to shine brighter than we have ever shone before and to support our peers and those that need us – digitally, physically and emotionally – living up to our mantra – Leading, Defending and Enriching the Jewish community.
Why not see a different take on this all? Hear what UJS President Esther Offenberg had to say about the Parasha