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Under Construction -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 02/23/23

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

February 23, 2023

4 Adar 5783

Parashat Terumah

Yesterday, I continued teaching my 4th-through-6th graders about the weekly Torah portion through food. This week, we tried to construct the Tabernacle using edible materials – graham crackers, marshmallow fluff, fruit roll-ups, life savers and more. We discovered pretty early on that it was not going to be easy. There were lots of intricate instructions. Plus, it was hard to get the materials to do exactly what we wanted them to do. Needless to say, none of us are professional architects or builders. In short, we needed to help one another and listen to one another. As we come to the conclusion of the instructions for the Tabernacle in this week’s Torah portion, it becomes clear that even Moses would not be able to complete this project all on his own. In addition to the many contributions brought by the Israelites at the beginning of the portion, Moses was going to need the help of someone with expertise. That person would be Bezallel, whom we meet in Exodus 31 (Torah portion of Ki Tissa in two weeks). It was an important lesson for my students to learn on at least two different levels. First of all, when taking on a large project, it is more than okay to ask for help. In fact, it’s necessary. We all need help to achieve success. Even the people who think that they’ve succeeded on their own, actually got a lot of help along the way. Secondly, when it comes to creating a religious community, no one person can do it alone. It takes a team. About 10 years ago, our congregation undertook a major construction project to enlarge our physical plant. It took many different people with many different skill sets to get that project to the finish line. It was a great success and we are still enjoying the benefits of that expansion. Today, we are rebuilding our community post-lockdown. It’s not a mortar-and-brick construction project, but it still takes many different people if we are going to be successful. We are rebuilding our commitment to social actions. We are rebuilding our teen program. We are rebuilding our Shabbat attendance at services. It is slow and challenging work. However, if we are successful, we will end up with the beautiful community that we all want. So, if there’s a piece of synagogue life that has not been “rebuilt” since we went on lockdown in March 2020, let’s talk about it. Maybe, together, we can rebuild it. Shalom, RAF.

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