A Drop of Torah
This week's Torah Portion is a double portion, VaYakhel-Pekudei. The primary focus of the Parsha is the details surrounding the construction of the Tabernacle and all of the accoutrements necessary for its functioning. The Parsha points out primarily that the people donated all of the materials used in the construction of the Tabernacle. What's unique is that the Torah addresses different groups specifically in different circumstances.
For example, in Exodus 35:4 Moses explicitly addressed the entire congregation of the Children of Israel… that's EVERYONE.
Verse 4: And Moses spoke unto the entire congregation of the children of Israel, saying: 'This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying:
Verse 5: Take from among you an offering unto the LORD. Whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring the LORD'S offering.
However, a pattern emerges in Exodus 36 with regard to those who bring all the articles necessary to build the Tabernacle:
Verse 10: "And let every wise-hearted man among you come, and make all that the LORD hath commanded."
Verse 21: And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and brought the LORD'S offering,
And it wasn't just the men.
Verse 22: And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted
Verse 25 says: And all the women that were wise-hearted
Verse 26: And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom.
Verse 29: The children of Israel brought a freewill-offering unto the LORD; every man and woman, whose heart made them willing.
Wise Hearts, Willing Spirits, Sacrifice
A wise heart and a willing spirit were the overriding characteristics to make a difference in the Parsha to build the Tabernacle. Today, the same characteristics that led our ancestors to bring everything necessary to build and furnish the Tabernacle are necessary to make a significant difference in anything: Wisdom and Will – a wise heart and a willing spirit. There's one more necessary factor, however, and that is sacrifice. Everything donated for the Tabernacle was a personal item that the individuals gave up for the benefit of the whole. You could say that this fundamental model applies to anything. Let us apply it to the water and the Sea for our purposes.
If you're reading this, you are already aware of the many threats facing the aquatic environment and have wisdom. If you have taken part in any marine conservation program like the Reverse Tashlich or Dive Against Debris, you have shown a willing spirit to take action BUT… are we willing to sacrifice to actualize our hearts of wisdom and our willing spirits? The Israelites gave up personal items to contribute to the sanctuary. What are you (and I) willing to give up for the sake of the Sea?
New Moon, New Month, New Habit
Our Rosh Chodesh Call to Action
This month, our Rosh Chodesh Call to Action is to make a personal sacrifice for the sake of the Sea. Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of every month in the Hebrew calendar, marked by a new moon) Nissan begins on the evening of this coming Wednesday, March 22nd. Every month to celebrate Rosh Chodesh, we encourage you to adopt a new habit to repair the Sea. To begin Nissan, inspired by the spirit of VaYakhel-Pekudei, ask yourself: "What can I stop doing to help the Ocean, or a river, or lake near me?" For example:
Do you use single-use plastic bottles? For the sake of the Ocean… Stop
Do you fertilize your lawn? For the sake of the Ocean… Stop
Do you eat fish? For the sake of the Ocean… Stop
I could go on and on and on, but in reality, this is a question that only you can ask yourself. So ask yourself that question and make a sacrifice. Our ancestors sacrificed to support the Tabernacle, where God's presence dwelt amongst them so long ago. So today, let us sacrifice for the sake of the Sea, where the presence of God still dwells among us.
Do you need more ideas, or do you already know what step you will take? Then ask or share with us in the comments below.