Vayachel 2017

We have survived the ordeal with the golden calf, and return to our task at hand: to build a place for our GD to dwell. In the Biblical mind, ancient peoples made places for their gods to dwell, so that the god could travel with the tribes and provide access to the mystery of being alive: conception, birth, illness, food, water, warfare, dying, and death.  Like so many of us who have weathered a terrifying storm, we turn to creating beauty out of the remnants of what was destroyed. 

Moses puts out a call to the people to bring forward, if their hearts so move them, jewels, metals, tapestries and so forth, out of which the artisans will fashion them into the intricate structure of the mishkan/tabernacle. At one point, the outpouring of supplies surpassed what was needed, and Moses said: 

The people are bringing more than is needed for the tasks entailed in the work that the LORD has commanded to be done.” Moses thereupon had this proclamation made throughout the camp: “Let no man or woman make further effort towards gifts for the sanctuary!” So the people stopped bringing; their efforts had been more than enough for all the tasks to be done.  (Ex. 36:5-7)

Can you imagine that we would have to call out a halt of donations to the food shelf? That we had enough housing, medicine, teachers, books, schools, band-aids, and so on, so that we cried, "Enough!"? The Torah is inviting us to consider what happens when we are led by our hearts (Ex. 35:5) to build that which will sustain us.  In the biblical mind, it was a mishkan, the cultic center; for us today, what will sustain us? What is that place, metaphorical or otherwise?

This week, we are being asked to live from a perspective of abundance and not scarcity. There is enough.  We have enough to make sure everyone has enough.  To look at the world through the eyes of scarcity leads us to hoard, to see our fellow beings, human and otherwise, as the Other, where competition sets the emotional tone out of which alienation and cruelty and indifference grows.  
May we all try on the goggles of abundance, and try to experience the outpouring of compassion and material support that is all around us, and see if we can be moved only ‘by our hearts’ so much that the system calls out, “Enough!”

----- Rabbi Jan