This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, features an elaborate description of how the Mikdash, the Holy Sanctuary, is to be built. It details the materials that must be used and serves as a handbook for the construction. The reading begins with the direction that everyone among Israel shall make an offering, shall contribute according to his good will, to her good desire. And the commentaries note that those offerings are so abundant that Moses instructs people to stop contributing.
What has always struck me about this communal generosity is this: every contribution to this shared endeavor, regardless of its source, is accepted and embraced.
Our world is more boundaryless than ever. More decentralized. More permeable. In such a culture, what constitutes a contribution to the community? What offerings to our do we accept—or not—as we build our commonwealth together?
The expression of identity, the skin color of the person who expresses such identity, the language through which this identity is shared, all of these have expanded to include a wider, deeper understanding of who we are. Together. As a people. Our ideas, our values, our cultural expression as a people—these things thrive, and I contend that they do so because we’ve begun to accept and embrace every contribution to our understanding of ourselves. Our work is to continue to validate and celebrate the abundance of Judaism and Jewish life and the countless ways it finds expression. Our work is to accept all of these contributions, each one according to his good will, to her good desire, to their compassion.