Close your eyes for a moment. Go ahead, you have been staring at your computer screen for way too long already. Go ahead, close your eyes. Close your eyes and imagine the following scene: Six hundred thousand Jews are encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai. Smoke swirls about the volcanic peak. An air of awe and wonder permeates the place. One after another, the Children of Israel come forward, bearing gifts to their God. The midrash tells us they brought earrings of gold, bracelets of silver, and brilliant jewels. For their leaders, they brought tunics of fine cloth and embroidery. One by one they step forward to bring their gifts until the line stretches back to the horizon.
All this from Moses’ single simple request: “take from among you gifts to God; everyone whose heart so moves shall bring them – gifts for Adonai: gold, silver, and copper.” (Exodus 35:5-9) The bringing of voluntary gifts to build the Tabernacle – the sacred Place of Assembly in the wilderness – is the central theme of this week’s Torah portion, Vayak’heil.
OK, now open your eyes. But keep clearly before your eyes that beautiful image of a community working together to build something greater than themselves. It is a binding image, an image of our first task together in the making of our common faith. It is a wondrous thing, what we can build together, in common cause, in common faith, together there is quite literally nothing we cannot overcome.
So what shall we build? Let us build together a world of justice and peace.