Rabbi Yaier Lehrer
February 16, 2024
In the Torah portion of Terumah , God tells Moshe to ask for people to contribute the materials, gold and silver needed to build the Tabernacle and create the various objects used for worship therein. A great deal of detail is given to what is needed and the Israelites respond enthusiastically. The Jews respond with a full heart.
The rabbinic tradition of the Midrash tells us that after Moses collected all the gifts that people gave, every time he walked by people would gossip about Moses. They accused him of taking a cut of the donations for himself. But when Moses hears the gossip he turns to the people and tells them that once they see the Tabernacle and what has been built, they will get a full accounting of all money and materials.
One would think that Moses, of all people, would get a free pass from the people. He had led them out of Egypt, faced down the Pharaoh, and spoke directly to God. But Moses is the person who is also a role model for his people. And realizing that, he needed to show them how to handle criticism. And he also learned that despite the miracles in which he had been involved, despite all the good that he has done up until this point, he has no choice but to continue to show who he is and what he stands for. He cannot rest on his past deeds. He cannot expect a life in which everything he does and says is accepted on face value.
So once the construction is complete, the Torah tells us Moses does in fact give an accounting of all the materials and precious metals he collected and where in the Tabernacle they could be found. And during the rest of his life he still stands up for the people of Israel even when they fail to have confidence in him or criticize his actions. He continues to teach them. And by doing so, he maintains his strong relationship with God.
And if Moses himself does not get to rest on his laurels, how much more true is it for every one of us. The Torah teaches that there is no end to the good we have been assigned to do in the world. And even if we subject ourselves to criticism for doing it, we have no choice but to continue on the path that makes a difference in the world just like Moses made a difference for the Israelites. Doing the right thing, the moral thing, the Torah thing, is the price we pay for living in this world and having a holy relationship with God and others. The world is better for the effort and the price we pay is worth it.
Rabbi Yaier Lehrer
There is no such thing as a free lunch. Milton Friedman
On this holiday weekend, your attendance at services in person or online is crucial to us having a meaningful service tonight (7PM), tomorrow (10AM)and on Sunday. (9AM). Looking forward to seeing you.