Note: This week's "A Shabbat Thought" is coming early, as I will be away tomorrow in celebration of the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter Baila.
This week we read Parshat Terumah, and in doing so we begin a series of parshiyot which focus primarily on the building of the mishkan, the portable sanctuary the Israelites transported with them on their journey through the desert.
As the parsha begins, the Israelites are enjoined to donate a terumah, a portion. However that portion was to be given voluntarily. The command was such that if their heart moved them do so, they should contribute. Rashi points out that this was a good will offering. The Torah then lists several precious metals, and other items that would be used ultimately to construct a Mishkan, a sanctuary dedicated to the Divine.
The Israelites were asked as individuals to contribute something that was greater then themselves. The Mishkan served as a focal point for the people, a reminder that the Divine was in their presence and part of their lives.
GBDS is our Mishkan. GBDS is our place where we are creating something great. We all give our personal terumah, our talent, our creativity, our passion for something greater than ourselves; to a greater good, the strengthening of the Jewish people, the continuity of Jewish tradition.
Rabbi Yaakov Traiger