Torah portion: Why we must continue to gather the Jews

Will Gotkin is a recent graduate of The George Washington University and a regular contributor to GTJ.

Parashas Pekudei describes how the Jewish people’s donations led to the construction of the Mishkan (the Holy Tabernacle). The combined contributions of the people were used to erect an edifice in which G-d’s presence would dwell among them. The act demonstrates that wonderful things can happen when we put our differences aside and work together.

Each component of the Mishkan – the menorah, the spices, the curtains, the keruvim, etc. – possesses a unique holiness and performs a specific function simply by virtue of being part of the Mishkan as a whole. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains we can learn from this is that each of us possesses an intrinsic worth that makes us equal to every other individual of the Jewish people regardless of our spiritual stature. Also, whatever good we do for the community at large also helps us fulfill our own unique purpose.[1]

Interestingly, this week’s reading of the Tanya – a work of Chassidic philosophy authored by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in 1797 – discusses the notion of Jewish unity. It teaches that G-d’s infinite light will reside within the Community of Israel (the Jewish people) so long as they are united as one. Furthermore it is impossible for G-d’s presence to dwell among the Jewish people if there is disunity between them because G-d’s presence does not dwell in an imperfect, fragmented place.[2]

Every Jew is special, but G-d’s presence rests among us only when we work together. The redemption of the Jewish people and indeed the entire world will come when the Jewish people are united as one. Our current exile was started by groundless hatred between Jews during the time of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and it will end when unity and love of one’s fellow predominates. This is why Gather the Jews and other, similar ‘Jew-gathering’ organizations must continue to gather and unite the scattered sparks of holiness found within each member of the Jewish nation. This parasha teaches us that we must use our unique, special talents with which we have been endowed by our Creator to make the 2,000 year-old dream of Jewish unity and universal harmony a reality.

Every day we pray in the Shimoneh Esrei that G-d commence the ingathering of the exiles by saying the following blessing: “Blessed are you, Lord, who gathers the dispersed of His people Israel.” May this prayer be answered speedily and in our days.

[1] Ibid, 285

[2] Likutei Amarim Chapter 32

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