Vayakhel-Pekudei – Exodus 35:1 – 40:38 – Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, March 21, 2020
We are going through a very strange moment, hunkering down in our homes, afraid of a threat we cannot see, watching the slim threads of society stretched to the max and wondering if they will unravel. What are we to do in these moments?
This week’s Torah portion begins with a discussion of Shabbat: “On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD;” (Exodus 35:2) and, “Take from among you gifts to the LORD; everyone whose heart so moves him shall bring them—gifts for the LORD” (Exodus 35:5)
These seemingly unrelated verses can provide us with guidance as we navigate these uncertain times. As we shelter-in-place we are all experiencing a kind of forced Shabbat. We cannot go to work, or shop, or busy ourselves with many of the tasks of daily life.
View this time as a gift, an opportunity to cease from our constant doing and explore our being. We can spend more time with those we love. If they don’t live with us we can call them or video chat and spend more time with them. Or we can read, or cultivate a skill we have long desired, like learning to play an instrument, or learning a new language, or painting or writing.
Time is a gift, which we have all been given. Let’s use it to grow.
And let’s also remember that each of us has a talent, a special gift, that we can use to help strengthen our social connection. We can call friends and congregants to stay connected. Or, we can prepare a meal for someone who needs food. Or, some of us can go shopping and bring groceries to those who can’t go to the store. Or, we can make a donation to the Contra Costa Emergency Food Bank.
There are many other gifts we can offer one another so although we must distance ourselves physically, we can still reach out to others to offer support and comfort to get through this time together.