Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19, Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, February 20, 2021

It is a commonplace observation that human beings are social creatures. We seek the company of others. We desire community. We take it for granted. But at times like these when we are forced into a kind of solitary existence, we realize how much community means to us. How much we need it. 

This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, begins the chronicle of the building of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle in which God’s presence dwelt. It begins with these words: “Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him.” (Exodus 25:2) From this we learn that community is built when we each bring our talents and gifts and share them with each other. 

Building community is a collective endeavour. This is even more true now, when we can not come together physically, so each of us contributes in new ways to keep our community alive, technical skills, graphics, the willingness to teach others how to get online or on Zoom. The gifts may be different, but the goal is the same. 

Our Torah portion also reminds us that when we succeed we create holy space, as we read, “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:9) That is, when we bring our talents together to create and sustain community, we make a space for holiness, for the divine presence to dwell. Lord knows, we need that holiness, now more than ever.

~Rabbi Dean Kertesz