Vayakhel and the Tabernacle of the Heart

At the beginning of this portion this week, Vayakhel, Moses reiterates the commandment to observe Shabbat, and then goes on to explain, in more excruciating detail, the construction of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, that is to be Hashem’s dwelling place with the Israelites as they travel. The question in this portion is what, in all of these details regarding the kind of blue, purple and red dyed wool, goat hair, animal skins, gold, silver, and copper, what can we learn from this, this craziness?

This is the questions I asked myself:
What does this have to do with me?

At the beginning of the portion, Moses asks the Israelites to donate these rich and precious materials to build G_d’s house, His Tabernacle, and to work to build the Sanctuary.
And what do the Jews do?
They give.
And give.
And give some more.
The Torah says:
“Every man and woman whose heart motivated them to bring for any of the work that Hashem had commanded to make, through Moses – the Children of Israel brought a free-willed offering to Hashem.”
They came and gave freely. Not only did they give, they worked, they sewed and built and labored.
In fact, they gave so much of their possessions and of themselves that Moses had to say, “Man and woman shall not do more work toward the gift for the Sanctuary”!
Moses told them to stop!

The building of the tabernacle raised another question in my own study, what is the Mishkan that we should be building today? One answer is the tabernacle of our hearts. And more than this, we are told that all who desired came to build, together, to build the Mishkan. Can you imagine that? This saying that not only are we to build the sanctuaries of our own hearts, our own spaces for Hashem to dwell within us, more importantly we are called to help build up the sanctuaries of others, to empower them to a higher connection with G-d.

What can we take away from this?
We are called to give, not as charity and not just money. Jews are called to give tzedakah, which means “righteousness” or “justice”. We are called to do right with ourselves and our resources. We are called to work not only for our own personal spiritual benefit, but for those in the world with us as well.

So give. Give of your time, your money, your selves. Give until Moses himself says “No more!”.

But more than that, give of your skills, your love, your soul, and help your fellow human beings dedicate the tabernacle of their hearts to the unity and Oneness that is the reality of G-d.

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