Friday, March 4, 2016

Parashat Vayakhel- Giving Generously

Vayomru el-Moshe leimor mabim ha’am l’havi midei ha’avodah lamlakha asher-tzivah Adonai la’asot otah.
And they spoke to Moshe saying: The people bring more than [we need] for the service of the work that Adonai commanded to make. (Shemot 36:5)
Jewish history has not been easy. So many times in our history we have been persecuted, or had to escape from persecution. And, like other humans, in those dark moments, we have risen to new heights. Perhaps it is the number of difficulties that created the Jewish people as philanthropic and as scientists seeking solutions for our community and the world. In those difficult periods, and after them, we have made our greatest efforts. This can be seen in enlistment rates during WWII. It can be seen in the history of JNF, especially pre-State of Israel. And, it can be seen in the years following the exodus from Egypt.
These people, oppressed for 400 years, might have reacted with greed and anger. Some did, and were punished. Nonetheless, the greater community stepped up whenever asked to give what they could. Even now, with a generation of wandering ahead of them, they do not hole back. The community gives so generously it comes to be too much. They must be told not to donate more.

What a problem to have. Think of it, plenty of money for eldercare. An endowment for Jewish education. Enough funding to support synagogues and the myriad of tzedakot that keep our community healthy. We may not be able to solve all these problems, but we can use this season to give generously, to our synagogue, to our food bank, to our community Pesach food drive, and to other tzedakot that are important to each of us.
We are blessed to live in a wonderful country. Although many in our community do not have disposable income, we are richer, both financially and in terms of quality of life, than so many of in the world Jewish community. We can be confident in the rule of law, and most need not wonder from where our next meal will come. Purim is a time for mutant l'evyonim, gifts to the poor. It's time to tighten our belts just a little and ensure others have enough for the coming Hagim and the seasons beyond.