Below is the text of a d'var Torah presented by UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore Danielle Adler on Friday, February 12, 2016.
Exodus 25:1 - 27:19
In this week’s parsha, Moses receives the 10 Commandments from G-d written on stone tablets. G-d tells Moses to create a dwelling place for G-d, where the Israelites can bring gifts to Him. G-d details what the Tabernacle will look like and how it should be constructed. The tabernacle includes an ark, two cherubs, curtains, and a menorah. G-d discusses with Moses exactly how the Israelites will construct the tabernacle. How will they collect the necessary things to make it sacred and just?
So, Moses and all of the Israelites donate gifts to give to G-d by “whose heart so moves him.” So do as they please and want to impress G-d with.
The tabernacle is thought of as “G-d’s dwelling place among the people.” So many people can interpret this differently. We all have our different understandings of holiness and relationships with G-d.
So consider what your holy space is between just you and G-d. Do you have one place in particular that comes to mind? Is it at home or here in Chapel Hill?
We have the ability to make anything into a holier state by performing good deeds. For example, I can use this table to sit around with friends and gossip. Or, I can use it in a holier context. I can instead with friends talk about social justice or encouragement.
But with each chance that we have to make a place more sacred, it comes with its fair share of challenges.
Think on difficulties you have had to overcome and discrepancies among opponents around you. The ability to rise above these disparities is an incredible ability, and if there’s a will, there’s a way. Look, the Israelites had to figure it out for 40 years in the desert!
Another big part of this week’s parsha alludes to the idea of tzedakah, which most of us know is the idea of giving to those around us. A great explanation I found with this week’s reading is that with tzedakah, the giver benefits just as much as the recipient does.
Tzedakah is an opportunity to better those around us, even ourselves. There is very little difference between giving and taking in this case…for every ounce that you give you are also taking a benefit. That’s the difference between tzedakah and charity: charity we just give. Tzedakah we strive to better ourselves in the process and to better our society as a whole that we live in.
If everyone gives, then we benefit from living in a society where everyone’s needs are met, and none are in need. To live in such a society benefits all. To live in such a society is a privilege. And for all that we give, we benefit much more.
To tie in with this week’s parsha, the Israelites are benefitting equally from creating the tabernacle and worshipping to G-d, just as He benefits from their donations.
Everyone has this potential to make the elevate the environments around them. We all have individual talents that the greater society at large can benefit from.
There are so many ways to be involved in community service. For me personally, I enjoy helping with literacy awareness and helping younger students to have more opportunities with learning. Here at Hillel, I also serve at the community service chair. My committee seeks out projects for the Hillel community to engage in that involve social justice. Whether it be through food and clothing drives, helping plant gardens, there are so many different avenues. This is a great way to become more involved not only in the Hillel community but in the town of Chapel Hill.
For all of the great things this community has provided us, it seems fitting to give back. If you are interested in learning more about how to become involved with service at Hillel and the community service committee, feel free to talk to me!
Kyra Rubin is a first-year student at UNC-Chapel Hill from Madison, Wisconsin.