וַיַּקְהֵל מֹשֶׁה אֶֽת־כָּל־עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
Moses assembled the entire Israelite community (Exodus 35:16).
So begins this week’s double Torah portion, Va’Yakheil-Pikudei. Why does Moses assemble the entire Israelite community? For a very good purpose: to engage the Israelites in the building of the Mishkan, the holy sanctuary that we carried with us through the desert.
What a wonderful convocation! After we assembled to build the golden calf, what a blessing now to gather for the building of the Mishkan, G-d’s dwelling place among the people. Gathering around the fake-god-statue-calf brought confusion and waywardness. Gathering for the Mishkan brought clarity and unified purpose.
We witness daily human gatherings that are dubious at best, evil at worst -- convocations of the tragically misguided that bring sorrow and suffering. Humans have that potential. But humans also have the potential to gather for good and holy purposes. Gatherings that build up, not tear down; gatherings that heal, not harm; gatherings that bring us closer to G-d, and draw G-d nearer to us.
I urge you to gather here, at our synagogue, to learn, to pray, to celebrate, and to engage in acts of tzedakah. It is the sort of holy convocation that we all desperately need.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill