Strong FoundationsFebruary 20, 2014 - 5:00 am
Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.—Exodus 36:6–7
The Torah portion for this week is Vayakhel, which means “assembled,” from Exodus 35:1—38:20, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 7:13–26.
In this week’s Torah reading, we come across the beautiful scene describing the building of the Tabernacle. But perhaps the most stunning view is not one of the fully constructed Tabernacle, which is described in all its glory, but the preparation for the building.
God had commanded Moses to collect contributions from the people in order to “fund” the construction. In a stunning demonstration of dedication to the LORD, Moses is told: “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done” (Exodus 36:5).
Imagine the scene. God gave a list what was needed for building the sanctuary. Precious stones, gold, silver, copper, animal hides — the list of valuable materials went on and on. The people streamed in, bringing their finest belongings: “brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments” (Exodus 35:22), leather, yarn, stones, and gems. Morning after morning, the donations kept pouring in until the workers realized that there was more than enough, and Moses had to actually command the Israelites to stop bringing contributions!
Having more than enough donations is every synagogue’s, and I imagine, every church’s dream. What an amazing display of love and devotion as God and Israel built a home together!
Recently, I read an article whose title caught my attention: “Marriage Isn’t For You” by Seth Adam Smith. The author begins, “Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.” He then explains what he means by sharing some valuable advice that he received from his father when he was thinking about getting married. His father said, “I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy.”
Marriage is not about what we get; it’s about what we give. When a couple decides to build a home together, the home will only be as strong as the foundation – and a solid foundation is made of mutual contribution, dedication, love, and generosity.
According to a tradition in Judaism, the Tabernacle was never destroyed – just hidden away once the Temple was built. The Tabernacle was not capable of being destroyed because of its strong foundation – one of selfless giving. Similarly, we need to build a foundation of love and generosity when it comes to building our personal homes. That happens when the motto of our homes is no longer “What can I get?” but rather becomes, “What can I give?”