D’var Torah for February 8, 2019

“G-d 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.” In this week’s Torah portion, parshat T’rumah, the children of Israel are asked to work together – each contributing their own unique talents, wealth, and abilities to create a Mishkan – a dwelling place for G-d. The Torah says, “Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” You’ll notice that it does not say “Build me a sanctuary that I may dwell in it,” but rather “that I may dwell among them.” It is this act of bringing gifts – sharing the best that is within us, making space in our minds and our hearts, that really creates the sanctuary within.
Tonight, we will celebrate “Inclusion Shabbat” at RTR. While planning the music for the service, I was thinking a lot about how we are all, in our incredible diversity, createdB’tzelem Elohim, in the image of G-d. This week’s Torah portion invites us to find those Divine sparks within and use them to build a sanctuary – to make space inside for G-d. To make that sanctuary within the community, we need every kind of person, with all of their unique abilities, experiences, and ways of seeing and understanding the world. With just one voice missing, how can we reflect the completeness of the Divine. A sanctuary is not a sanctuary without the love and commitment of those who fill it. A melody is not a song without a person to sing it – and how much more beautiful it is with accompaniment and harmony!
In the song that I wrote in honor of Inclusion Shabbat, I wrote:
Each creature G-d created fulfills a special role
Divine sparks surround us in each G-d given soul.
Each different gift we bring together helps make the world complete.
It’s those distinctions among us that make the world so sweet!
This Shabbat, as always, let us remember to cherish our differences and uplift the Divine spark that we all share.
Shabbat Shalom,
Cantor Sally Neff