Traditionally, we are supposed to usher in the Jewish month of Adar with added joy. As the saying goes: Mishenichnas Adar Marbim b’Simcha – When Adar begins, we increase our joy! And, yet, in the wake of the tragic news from Parkland, Florida, it is difficult to ignore the tragedy and the trauma surrounding the horrific events of the latest mass school shooting. Many emotions, many questions, and many concerns surface as we learn more and as we begin to process the news.
How could God let this happen (yet again)? What is it all about? Will it ever change?
In the midst of all the virtual storm of emotions, questions and concerns that surrounds us, we read the weekly Torah portion of Terumah [contribution].
Our parsha describes a time when our people were of one mind. It tells of a time when, as individuals and as a community, our people were all into giving. They were all into building a Sanctuary – into joining together to make sure a vision reminding us of the values of holiness, of joy, of healing, and of mutual respect was prominently placed at the center of the Israelite encampment. This is what God wanted us to do! God did not need the Sanctuary. God wanted us to have a Sanctuary so that, in good times and in hard times, we would remember the power of generosity of spirit, the power of healing, and the power of finding a voice for fundamental Jewish values.
Our people had experienced hard times, oppression, and slavery. They had escaped from Egypt and were faced with the very real perils of a life of wandering in the desert. In the midst of this, God focused their attention on a way forward. God suggested that we focus on a joint project, on a Terumah [contribution] that each of us and all of us together could work on, to remind us of the vision of a world redeemed. The Sanctuary, then and now, serves as a reminder of the promise of our tradition – the promise of a world envisioned by our prophets – a world in which tragedy and trauma would be tempered by Terumah and by the triumph of all that is good!
May we be there for all those affected. May we come together. May we join hands in making our world a better place. And, may this Shabbat be the beginning of healing and of increasing our joy.
Rabbi Gilah Dror