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The Gathering...  Parshat  VaYakehl

02/22/2022 10:53:44 AM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin


Constructing the Mishkan - A Common Task

VaYakhel: Building the Place of G-d's Presence on Earth

Historical moments seem to be made by great men and women doing something great at a great time. But is it so?

In Torah terms, the Exodus, Crossing the Sea, the Stand at Sinai, the Entry into the Land of Israel are all headliner moments.

Further on in the Bible, we see moments like the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, the destruction of the Assyrian Army before the Gates of Jerusalem, the Revelation before Elijah at Mount Carmel and, the final miracle recorded in the Bible, the salvation of the Jewish people through Queen Esther and the rebuilding of the Temple. 

What do these events all have in common?  It might be tempting to say great leaders; men and women of vision and destiny.  Maybe, but what about the circumstances that put the right person in the right place at the right time?  The "great men" theory of history inevitably leads to very dark paths and places: to fascism and the veneration of might and violence over morality and truth: the very opposite of Torah and Judaism.  

So how about saying that what all of these moments had in common was G-d?  G-d took us out of Egypt.  G-d split the Sea, revealed the Torah, led us into the Promised Land and restored us to our land of Israel.

But one of G-d's most central name is "HaMakom" -- the Ever Present.  G-d has been there, is there, will be there all along.  No, there is some activating agent that somehow "enables" G-d's presence to burst through and manifest in the world.  It is not leaders, not circumstances, not "destiny".  It is something else. 

Well... there was one other Presence in Egypt, at Sinai, in Jerusalem.  One other Presence in the  Yishuv in 1948,  whose starved surviving remnants somehow made their way out of the Camps, who have been there at these highest moments.  Yes.  It is you.  Is is the Jewish people. 

It was our yearning for freedom and rejection of slavery that made it possible for G-d to bring us out of Egypt.  It was our faith and going forward into the Sea that made the miracle of it splitting possible.  It was our affirmation of "We will do and we will hear all of the Mitzvot" that made it possible for the Torah to be given.  It has been the Jewish people all along.  It was our last breaths of Shema Yisrael and our willlingness to dream and to live our dreams that opened the tiniest pinhole of light in the darkness to enable the miracle that is modern Israel, that is Jewish survival.  And it is our survival that has given inspiration and hope to all that is noble and great in humanity. 

When Queen Esther needed strength to stand before the King, she told Mordechai to "Gather the Jews".  When G-d wanted to manifest in the Tabernacle, G-d told Moses to "Assemble the Children of Israel."  In our assembling and gathering is something that we ourselves cannot understand or define.  But we feel it.  That is where we must be- with each other. And this is when we must be with each other- now and always.  In this Shabbat's Parsha, the People gather to raise the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. And it is that power that our unity and fellowship brings into the world that is the light that we must kindle- in our hearts, in our community, in the world, to light the way for miracles. 

Shabbat Shalom


Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784