Nelly Shulman
Nelly Shulman

To believe in good

In Exodus 35:5 Moses conveys to the children of Israel the commandment to donate the items for the adornment of the Tabernacle. Whilst this is a commandment, it has an important limitation. The voluntary gifts are to be brought by all whose “heart is willing” to do so.

Here comes the plot twist. In our culture, we often refuse to give the person a second chance. We don’t believe that a sinner can repent. We “cancel”, as it is common to say now, people both dead and alive for the transgressions or the alleged transgressions they have committed. We certainly don’t expect a sinner to have a willing and generous heart.

A few chapters earlier God wanted to cancel the whole people of Israel, threatening their full destruction. Moses, as we know from Exodus 32, interceded, pleading and reassuring, humbly asking God to rethink the decision. So it was done to the extent that now the same people are trusted to have generous and willing hearts that would move them to the voluntary donations.

The cancellation process is incredibly easy. We drop people from our lives for transgressions much less minor than the building of the Golden Calf. However, it is much more difficult to imitate God, as we are supposed to do and to believe that a person can genuinely change.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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