Charitable acts are our calling – Cleveland Jewish News

Posted By on February 26, 2020

This is the first of four special Shabbatot known as Shabbat Shekalim. The portion and the other three upcoming are all tied to Purim or Passover. Two scrolls are removed. The first covers the weekly portion Mishpatim/Exodus. The second Torah reading pertains to Shekalim.

It is forbidden to count the Jews in an ordinary manner. When a census was required, Jews would contribute items. Each item was counted; thereby, giving us an accurate count. In the wilderness, the people rich and poor alike contributed a half-shekel each for the construction and upkeep of the tabernacle. The tabernacle was a portable sanctuary that accompanied the Jews through the desert. This was very holy and sacred and G-d's dwelling place.

The Torah goes into great detail requiring the specifications and materials to build the tabernacle in next weeks portion. The tabernacle also housed the tablets of 10 Commandments, both the broken set as well as the complete set. This commandment and opportunity to contribute equally showed everyone was beloved in the eyes of G-d. We are at our finest when we are united and driven to share equally. A similar concept can be found in the daily minyan. There is a requirement of 10 people for a service. Each individual relies on the other to achieve this sacred goal. It is discussed in the Talmud that this mitzvah of contributing toward the Tabernacle was an antidote for the future.

Next month we will celebrate Purim and read of the wicked Haman. He paid a bounty of 10,000 silver coins to destroy the Jews. The Talmud teaches that G-d gives the antidote before the wound. Our ancestors contribution toward the tabernacle offset Hamans wicked plans.

Even though we dont have a tabernacle or holy temple anymore, we should engage in charitable acts. We need to serve G-d equally. There is no elitist or pretense. We are each created in G-ds image and should act accordingly. In essence, we are all living tabernacles with the ability to commit holy acts.

By reading this portion we re-awaken our benevolent desire to perform G-ds will. When we read the portion it is as though we have participated in the mitzvah. Lastly, we can contribute to organizations that perpetuate Judaism and ensure our survival in the future.

Cantor Aaron Shifman is cantor at Bnai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike.

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Charitable acts are our calling - Cleveland Jewish News

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