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March 20, 2020
24 Adar 5780

Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei
Exodus 35:1 - 40:38

Dear Friends,

Preparing to write words of Torah for this week proved daunting to me. What wisdom could I possibly share from the tradition that could strengthen us at this particular moment? I wanted to get it ”right."

One of the things that I have learned this past week working with individuals from organizations across the Riverdale community is that we can simply do the best we can at any given moment, and “right” is not the criterion.

Then guidance came in the form of a d'var Torah written by my colleague and friend, Rabbi Bruce Alpert. His opening paragraph gave me the starting point for what we need to share with one another at this moment. The d'var is quoted below.

What does it mean to have a "willing heart?'" The phrase is used three times in the opening verses of this week’s parashah, Vayak’hel/P’kudei (Exodus 35:5, 22, and 29). It likewise appears in Parashat Terumah, Exodus 25:2. In each instance the circumstances are the same; it describes the voluntary donations of precious materials (gold, silver, jewels, rare fabrics) used for the construction of the Mishkan - God’s dwelling place among the Israelite tribes. These donations are all made by those whose heart moves them to do so, and they are made in such profusion that Moses ultimately must command the Israelites to stop (Exodus 36:6).

You, the larger Tehillah community, are people who have “willing hearts” -- willing to share your time, your skills, and your expertise with one another. You always do it, in large ways and small.

Riverdale institutions, large and small, are gearing up for the next wave, even though, like our ancestors making the crossing through the wilderness, we do not know what obstacles await us. (A note to those of you who may think the Israelites “messed up” constantly as they crossed the wilderness over forty years -- what the Torah gives us is dramatic highlights as any good storyteller would, but that is a Torah study for another time.)

Not only do you have “willing hearts” so do members of this community, as we work together creating a web of support in the larger community. In the days ahead we (Tehillah) will be doing that kind of work as well, taking stock of who is in the community and how we can be of support to one another.

I look forward to joining you tonight and tomorrow morning via Zoom as we pray together.

May we travel through this unchartered wilderness together with care, love, support, and “willing hearts."

Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781