Giving freely of yourself to help others – it’s parenting AND Judaism in a nutshell.
I still love Legos. There is something oddly comforting in sifting through lots of little pieces, finding just the right one to add to a plastic block creation. Without each piece in its place, my creation wouldn’t be complete. Going brick by brick is like a jigsaw puzzle. If there’s a piece missing or out of place, the whole things feels just a little bit off.
I often get that feeling about everyday life too. If there’s a part of my regular routine that hasn’t happened, the day feels incomplete. Even the Torah has its moments when we’re looking for just the right piece to complete the puzzle. This week we read from Parshat Terumah. The Torah gives us commandments to give gifts as we build the Tabernacle. We receive the instructions for the beautification of the space as we put the ark, covered with cherubs, in its proper space. Each vessel, covering, light fixture, and costume piece is listed so that the space is completed to God’s exact specifications. The Torah lists each piece individually in order to state the exact purpose of each individual item. Everything must be in its place.
With all of these pieces coming together, the Tabernacle is like a big puzzle, but the Torah text works to ensure that each piece isn’t just a solitary component, but a part of the bigger picture. In chapter 26, verse 6 the text states, “So that the Tabernacle becomes one whole.” The Tabernacle is only whole when it has all of its parts, in the same way that the Israelites are composed of many individual people, but must form one harmonious “whole” in order to be a nation.
And even though our community as a whole, like the Tabernacle, is greater than the sum of each individual, our community is also only as strong as our weakest link. Our Torah reading this week reminds us that we all play a critical part in the “whole” that is our community. Each voice, opinion, smile, handshake, and hug matters. When we all work as one, assemble our whole together, then our community is strengthened.