Dear families and friends,
In this week’s parsha, T’rumah, Hashem gives us the mitzvah of building a Mishkan, a dwelling place for God’s Divine Presence:
“Speak to the children of Israel, let them take unto Me a “t’rumah”, and this is the t’rumah, gold and silver and brass…. And they shall make for Me a sanctuary, and I shall dwell amongst them.
Hashem gives us the mitzvah of “t’rumah”, [root: REISH VAV MEM, l’harim: to lift up, to take something of this world and ‘raise it up’ to Hashem]. Hashem is asking us to take our most valuable possessions, and our God-given talents, and sincerely ‘raise them up’ to Him for the sake of His Name.
This is one of my favourite teachings on this amazing verse – every one of us has something to contribute to God’s house. When we think of contributions, we usually think of financial contributions, (i.e. gold, silver and copper, etc). But often we forget to contribute a ‘t’rumah’ of our ‘self’ – our time, energy, talents and strengths.
A couple of great examples of this were seen in the school this week. The grade 6 class engaged in a beautiful intergenerational project at the Weinberg Residences. The students had the opportunity to get to know seniors and to build relationships with them. The meetings kicked off wonderfully as students blossomed in their connections with their new friends – they will have the opportunity to see these relationships grow over the course of two more visits, and some students are even talking about arranging ‘hang-outs’ on their own time. Students have taken this chance to connect with kind-hearted and open seniors, many from a different time and place, in stride and are gushing about their newly forming friendships.
As well, grade 7 students presented their capstone presentations for their service-learning projects this Tuesday. Students engaged in a variety of different projects in the community with the aim to “do good.” Many students were beaming with pride at the end of their presentations from their ability to make waves in the community and to form a connection with local, Jewish and/or international causes.
I was fortunate to be a part of both of these school experiences, and I can tell you clearly that it is in those moments of chesed, and of giving of yourself, your time and your energy, that we are making a dwelling place for Hashem. The feeling of doing so is palpable.
The past two weeks have also been a hard time in our school family, as a number of families lost dear parents and grandparents. Hearing about how the community has been there for the families, with kind words, carpool arrangements, food and all other offers of support, comfort and love, gives a whole other dimension to the parsha’s teaching, and shows how a Jewish day school community can be there to lift each other up, and can be a sanctuary and a home, in good times and in difficult times. T’rumah, l’harim – to lift up, to take something of this world and ‘raise it up’ to Hashem. That’s our role in this world.
May Shabbat be a blessing and a comfort to all who need it.