In this week’s Torah portion, T’rumah, every Israelite whose heart so moves him/her is asked to contribute to the building of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a portable tent housing the tablets with the Ten Commandments, the Menorah and cherubim, and the accoutrements of the sacrificial cult – a holy place for God to dwell among the people. This week we are voting in Israel (again), even as Jews around the world are in the last few days of voting for the World Zionist Congress, a body that controls a huge budget influencing what happens here in Israel. The Israeli election results also count as a vote for the WZC.
These two votes also will determine the composition of the next KKL-JNF board, That board could determine whether the KKL-JNF evicts the Sumarin family in East Jerusalem from their home, or works to wrest lands from the Bedouin in the Negev. Needless to say, our Israeli vote will determine whether or not we continue to undermine our legal system, whether or not the government assumes responsibility for the weakest and poorest Israelis, or says that is not the responsibility of government; whether or not non-Jewish citizens are treated as equals, or not; whether or not we respect the rights of Palestinians to safely farm and graze on their lands, or continue to steal them.
In other words, in the coming days Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis, along with Jews around the world, are helping to determine what our tabernacle will look like. Will the State of Israel be a place in which God can dwell? Will we honor God’s Presence on every human being, or just give lip service to universal values? When we read next week of the ephod with stones representing each of the tribes of Israel that the High Priest wore when he entered the Holy of Holies, let us ask who is close to our hearts and who has a place in our tabernacle? The wings of the cherubim cover the Ark of the Covenant. For whom are we protecting angels?
Each of us is being asked in the coming week to contribute to a tabernacle that shelters and inspires us, and who’s light shines throughout the world.