Speaking Words of Wisdom
A drash on parsha Vayakhel-Pekudei Exodus 35:1 - 40:38
delivered at Congregation Har Shalom's Beatles Shabbat.
(Beatles lyrics are in bold.)
When I was writing this I kept having visions of Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one would hear. And thank you for lending me your ears, letting me sing you a song and not standing up and walking out on me when I sang out of tune.
Todah rabah. Thank you.
When I find myself in times of trouble, words of Torah come to me. Speaking words of wisdom: You are free.
We finish the book of Exodus this week: Moses has told all the people to Come Together. It’s time to reconcile after the incident of the golden calf.
Listen, Moses says:
You say yes
I say no
You say stop
I say go
I say high
You say low
You say why? And I say I don’t know!
Life is very short, and there’s no time for tzuris and mishegas, my friends.
Try to see it my way? C’mon. We can work it out.
Now, money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you a heck of a tabernacle and some downright groovy priestly vestments. So, I’m asking for your Help. I need somebody. Not just anybody. I need everyone.
Haven't you felt that yearning in your heart, Moses asked them? Haven’t you said,
I really want to see you
I really want to be with you
Really want to see you Lord
But it takes so long, My Lord
It’s all right. Even if we had Eight days a week, it’s long and winding road. But I will be with you. You know I will.
But even Moses needed a capital campaign.
It’s gonna take money.
A whole lot of spending money
It’s gonna take plenty of money
To do it right, children
And it’s gonna take time
A whole lot of precious time
It’s going to take patience and time
To do it right.
And so the people gave --
Offerings for the work of the Tent of Meeting and for all its service and for the sacral vestments.
Men and women, all whose hearts moved them,
Brought gold to the LORD,
They came bringing brooches,
and pendants—gold objects of all kinds.
And everyone who had in his possession blue, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair, tanned ram skins, and dolphin skins, (From the Octopus’ Garden maybe?) brought them.
Everyone who would make gifts of silver or copper brought them as gifts for the LORD;
Everyone who had in his possession acacia wood (Not Norwegian Wood) for any work of the service brought that.
And all the skilled women spun with their own hands, and brought what they had spun. And to keep the camp running, there was someone fixing a hole where the rain got in, filling the cracks that ran through the door, and painting the room in a colorful way.
The people actually had to be restrained from giving too much, for each said:
I'll give you all I got to give if you say you'll love me tooI may not have a lot to give but what I got I'll give to you
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can make that can't be made.
Nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be...
This sanctuary depends on its individual elements. If one of the elements -- if one of the people, if one of the talents -- is missing, the tabernacle is incomplete.
The whole, forged by the combination of these individual pieces, is far more than the sum of its parts. When brought together, the different parts of the sanctuary all resonate with the divine, with G-d’s presence. Your piece of thread. Your curtain. Your glass for the ner tamid. Your music. Your leadership. Your carpentry skills. Your teachings. Your soul. Everyone getting by with a little help from their friends.
Yes, we must develop our own abilities as best we can, but then we must join together with others to complete the larger task, magnifying your own contribution, and creating the whole.
It takes a while to see this. When I was younger. So much younger than today. I never needed anybody’s help in any way. But now those days are gone and I’m not so self assured. Now I find, I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors.
And the people, having seen what they could do, realized: There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
But, despite what The Beatles said, you do need more than love. They worked a hard day’s night, working like dogs. They were no longer a nowhere people sitting in a nowhere land. They had a ticket to ride, and they stopped being a Band on the Run.
When the tabernacle was finished, “a cloud rested upon it, and the glory of the divine filled the sanctuary” and the people said, ”And though the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me. Shine until tomorrow. Let it be.”
The people, the God and the Sanctuary: One and One and One is Three.
“I’ll be there,” said the Divine. “And everywhere. Here, there, and everywhere.”
When the cloud arose, the children of Israel set forth on all their journeys. Together, singing: Our life together. Is so precious together. We have grown, we have grown.
It’s time, children of Israel. Children of Har Shalom. Our kehilah.
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
All your life.
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.