Everyone Whose Heart Was Stirred
by Jhos Singer
Fair warning: Once again, this week’s musing is a biblically inspired pitch, not entirely unlike like last week’s teaching which, due to technical difficulties, wasn’t widely read.
That said, I could have written the pretty much the same drash for either of these two portions (Ki Tisa Exodus 30:11 – 34:35 and this week’s portion, VaYakhel Exodus 35:1-38:20) because they are remarkably similar to one another—and they, too, are pitches, albeit ancient ones.
So, following a long description of what is needed to create a spectacular community ritual space, or Mishkan, the Torah delves into examples of what motivates community support for the project.
God says to Moses who says to the Israelites:
“Let you take from amongst you an offering to The One—all whose hearts are willing, let them bring the Divine offerings: gold and silver and brass; and blue, purple, and scarlet fine linen and goats’ hair; and rams’ skins dyed red, and sealskins and acacia wood. …And let every wise-hearted person among you come and make all that has been Divinely commanded… And they came, everyone whose heart was stirred and everyone whose spirit was willing, and brought Divine offerings. They came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted and brought nose-rings and earrings, and signet-rings and other golden ornaments and jewels—every person brought an offering of gold to the One.” (Exodus 35:5-22)
This goes on until finally, Moses has to tell them to stop; they had more than enough precious metals, fine woolens, high-quality pelts, gemstones, fancy oils, and on and on and on, to build a mind-blowingly beautiful and spacious sanctuary. (It’s an enviable position for the head of any community to have to tell people to stop bringing donations!) With heaps of resources, and an excited, wise, and willing-hearted community, the building, weaving, carving, and forging can begin.
Last week I unpacked the phenomena of pledging support out of excitement versus fear. This week, I’m more concerned about what the text means by chocham lev (literally, wise-hearted), since that is the quality that is being identified as necessary, even before any donation is made. So, I looked up the Biblical word and found that it has six meanings, which are given in the following order: 1) skillful, 2) wise in the administration of affairs, 3) shrewd, crafty, cunning, 4) learned, 5) prudent, and 6) wise.
This is the Torah’s prescription for what moves us as individuals to generosity for the sake of building a community that is far bigger than any one of us.
At this moment, Chochmat HaLev really needs your wise-hearted financial support, resources, and willingness to help out with the myriad updates and clean-ups, repairs and refreshing that will be going on in the next months. We’re going to all need to ask ourselves how we can show up for each other and our community – how we can give of ourselves to support this effort. Maybe you are a reader who lives far away—if you enjoy these posts, ask your wise heart if it’s possible to send in a small monthly donation as a way of sharing your appreciation. If you are local and come to a particular service or meditation practice, how about offering to come in once a month to help keep our space clean and tidy? If you are a long-time member, it would be awesome if you made an offering on behalf of a fellow congregant, or a beloved teacher, or musician. If Chochmat Halev has been a refuge for you in a time of loss, perhaps you are inspired to lift up the name of a loved one by offering tzedaka in their memory.
Together, may our willing and wise hearts ensure that all who enter our doors find an abundant and beautiful home.