Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel/Shabbat Shekalim 5776–Shabbat Torah Study–Are You a Pillar? What Do You Stand For?

This week’s Parasha details the fulfillment of God’s command for the building of the Mishkan—the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. The Haftarah describes the parallel story of the building of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Noteworthy, is that the Mishkan and the Beit HaMikdash were each constructed under a leadership that demonstrafted unity, sensitivity, compassion and communal support.

In the case of the Mishkan, God designated Bezalel from what would be the royal tribe of Judah and Oholiab from the lowly tribe of Dan. Midrash tells us the sad truth that there was prejudice against the Dan-ites and Dan was considered a tribe on the lower end of the tribal tiers because Dan was a descendant of Jacob’s maid servant Bilhah, not Leah or Rachel. God’s appointment of Oholiab was designed to show that what was important was a person’s spirit, heart and ability, not their tribe of origin. Melech Shlomo –King Solomon– appointed Hiram, also of the tribe of Dan to assist him in the design and building of the Holy Temple. It would be the team effort of the lowest of the tribes and of the King himself that would build a permanent home for God on earth.

The Haftarah relates that at the very front of the Temple stood two great pillars symbolic of a firm foundation and fortitude. They were symbolic of a unity and partnership of heaven and earth and of the sun and the moon. Each is indispensable. Each is a masterful creation of God. It would only be a lack of unity, lack of compassion, care and concern for each other that would crack the foundation or dim the great lights. That is the sad story of the destruction of each of the Temples and of so many institutions that had formerly held so much hope and promise. Strong organizations are built on a foundation of care, concern and community. We learn that God looks for each of us to be pillars in our own right, to help support each other in our community and in that way to continue as symbolic pillars upholding the principles of the Temple yet to be rebuilt. Perhaps through our actions we can cause it to be rebuilt sooner.

This Shabbat we learn with Adat Shalom’s Director of Education, Dr. Melissa Ser. 9:45 a.m. in the Shiffman Chapel. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like. Please join us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Paul

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