Something Bigger

Kavanah Teens with Campers

The following was shared as a D’var Torah for Temple Etz Rimon for Kabbalat Shabbat services on 2/19/2021.

By: Dan Baer

If you had to leave your home right now and didn’t know when you were coming back and could only pack a single suitcase, what would you make sure is inside it? Lots of essentials like extra clothing? Some luxury items like jewelry or video games? Family pictures or heirlooms? A mix?

Remember what you thought of, and we’re going to come back to that in a minute.

This week’s parsha, T’rumah, tells us how to build the Mishkan in the desert. To give you an idea of where we are at in the Torah, we’re hanging out in the desert, having escaped from Egypt and just recently received the 10 commandments and a whole bunch of other guiding laws.  Now that we’re here, G-d asks us for a place to dwell, where we can meet with G-d, show case the 10 commandments, be led by G-d, serve G-d, and more. We are basically building the first synagogue… as a tent…in the middle of the desert.

Now G-d knows what G-d wants, after all, there’s the all-knowing thing.  G-d gave very specific instructions for how to make it, what to make it from, and more.  They were going to need gold, silver, copper, different colors of wool, animal skins, oils, spices, gems, and more.  One question that really stood out to me though is: “Where did they get all the materials from?” Let’s remember, us Jews are wandering in the desert having left Egypt in a haste not too long ago.

Let’s remember those items from earlier. With just the things from one person, we wouldn’t be able to do much at all, but if we were to pool all of our things, we could create something bigger.  The first time we had the chance to build something for ourselves.  The first time we had a chance to give to something bigger.

Trumah is the word for donate in Hebrew.  Giving is just getting rid of something that you own, donating is doing so for a cause.  This why for Purim coming up this week it’s nice to give hamantaschen to friends but it’s a mitzvah to give or donate to those in needs.  This is one of the first times that the Jewish people had a place to call their own, and that’s a reason to give, to donate. 

Camp is all about this concept, being a part of something bigger.  Every time we gather way up the tall green mountain at Camp Mountain Chai.  Camp has never been about the place, and nor was the idea of the Mishkan, it was about bringing community together.  At Camp we climb the ropes course, play soccer, create works of art, dance, sing, and so much more, but that’s HOW we create community, not why we do it.  Give something of yourself, and we will all be better for it.