Shabbat Shalom: Individual and Collective Contributions
By: Cindy Coons
Director of Jewish Explorers and Family Engagement
Sometimes when we’re worried about making sure we are doing our best to contribute to the collective and the greater good, we can get lost in the details or the accounting of the details, and this may prevent us from seeing the hidden blessings all around us. Think about the last time you needed to complete a very precise task that was part of a larger project. What allowed you to move forward and not get caught up in the details? What level of intention and mindfulness did this require? How did you feel connected to the work you were specifically doing as well as the larger project?
This week’s parsha is P’kudei, which means “amounts of” in Hebrew. This Torah portion lists the amounts of the gold, silver, and copper donated by the people to make the Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle or Sanctuary, and the materials needed to make the priestly garments. Although this parsha seems to be an overwhelming accounting of the materials needed and activities that took place to build the Mishkan, it is indeed so much more. From an up-close perspective, it may be difficult to see past all the precise details, however, every detail is an accounting of each individual person’s contribution to making the Mishkan a holy and sacred space. Through this accounting, we can appreciate that each individual contribution strengthens the collective contribution, and vice versa, to completing the Mishkan. From the cloud view, God’s view, it is the people working collaboratively to accomplish something extraordinary, a place for God to dwell and a place for the people to gather to honor God and God’s commandments. It takes ometz lev, strength of the heart, to step back and take an account of and celebrate our individual as well as our collective contributions.
Parshat P’kudei’s accounting of what was needed to complete the Mishkan is the last parsha we read in the book of Shemot, Exodus. When we finish completing a book in the Torah, we say, “Chazak, Chazak v’Nitchazek – Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened.” Wishing each of us the strength to celebrate our individual and collective contributions to the community, the strength to find the hidden blessings that can transform ordinary moments into extraordinary moments, and may we all be strengthened. Shabbat Shalom!
Please email Cindy Coons at email@example.com with questions or comments.