A few weeks ago, we read, “Build for me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them, betocham.” The verse does not say, so that I may dwell in it. What is the significance of, so that I may dwell among them? Perhaps an answer can be found in this week’s Parashah. In Exodus 35, Moses outlines all the different ways people could help in the building of a portable sanctuary. We are told that as soon as Moses finished speaking to the whole community of Israel, “…everyonewho was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments….”
Everyone participated in the process, everyone who was willing, everyone who was invested in the success of the tent of meeting, did his or her share to make it a reality. In that moment the children of Israel became a community. As they worked together as a group towards the common good, God dwelt in their midst. God lived in the relationships and in the teamwork of the Israelites. In that moment, God resided among them, betocham.
So, too, today, only through teamwork, only through coming together as a community, will God be able to dwell in our midst. It is neither the size nor the grandeur of the space but the character and participation of the community. It is not enough to say that community is the key, we must address how that can be accomplished. As we in Women’s League and MetroNorth know, relationships create community. All people have passions and all people have abilities. It is the challenge of a community to recognize and discover where those passions and talents lie. We should be asking people what they are working on these days, we must find out what issues are truly important to them, and challenge them and us to find ways to make those passions a reality. We must encourage them and us to share these passions and actualize these dreams. Through these conversations we will discover that we all share passions, talents, skills, lifestyles in common. Our community will emerge even stronger than before.
Mathilde’s Mentionables Chair
Past Hudson Valley Branch President