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35http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/02/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---02_04_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 02_04_2011
02/03/2011 12:22 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
February 4, 2011 
 

                In Torah this week, the Israelites are not facing the threat of snow and ice. They’re in the wilderness where it’s warm and dry. In the portion called Terumah, God spoke to Moses saying, “Tell the Israelite people to bring Me Gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him” (Exodus 25:1). The gifts were for the purpose of building a holy place for God’s presence. Then it was called a Tabernacle. Today, we call it a synagogue, a Temple, or a schul (Yiddish for synagogue).

                The power of the verse is found in what it implies about you and me. The rabbis taught in a Midrash, that even one person who is so inclined could accomplish the work of building the Tabernacle. More likely, we come together with our individual skills and talents to accomplish sacred tasks. That’s what the Israelites did. Everybody discovered their own skills and used them to make contributions to the work of the Tabernacle. They were so successful in their efforts that Moses later came before the people and announced that more than enough had been brought for the project. He told them to stop bringing. Ever since, it’s been the envy of every Jewish fundraiser. Having more in the coffers than is needed could only be a biblical event! It remains a high ideal we still strive to reach, today.

                My point isn’t about fundraising. It’s about the work of our hands. You and I are skilled in special and unique ways. The other day, I learned more about the individuals who serve our congregation. Their professional skills and personal interests are vital to our well-being as a synagogue. Did you know that in our sanctuary, we have a special organ that fills the choir loft with its massive pipes and keyboard? And, did you know that 40 year-old pipes overhead were leaking and creating a real threat to the organ and to our sanctuary? With care, passion, and skills, members of our Board and staff organized the effort to repair and replace the pipes and secure the organ and the choir loft. You didn’t know about it, because the work was so carefully done; it never interrupted our worship or events in the sanctuary. Naturally, there were large costs associated with the physical labor of the job, but the time and attention that a few good men and women contributed was priceless.

                Our sanctuary, our modern-day Tabernacle, is secure now. When we enter our sanctuary, look up to the bemah, the Eternal Light, and the Torah, and appreciate the ideals of our faith and heritage that inspire all of us to contribute to its well-being. We should find satisfaction in knowing that we kept the promise of our ancestors; just as God commanded them, “Make me a Tabernacle that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8), so God has commanded us. The good works of our hands have enabled us to maintain our beloved Congregation Beth Israel.

                What is your contribution to your Tabernacle, to your Beth Israel? Click on beth-israel.org, and find out how you would like to spend time with us. We’re eager to spend time with you.

                As the weather is inclement this weekend, we have combined services on Friday evening, at 6:30pm, in the sanctuary. The bar mitzvah boy welcomes your participation, and we promise to turn up the heat.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

 

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