Constructing the Miskhan brings us to ask - how can we build our communities? What do we need besides a synagogue space in order to engender a communal environment? Even something as simple as seating makes all the difference.
Stand up and be counted! In this parashah, a census is taken. To be counted, you must give half a shekel. From this, we learn that while all must contribute to the community, each and every one of us is also individually important, both alone and as a member of the Jewish people. Rabbi Rick Jacobs focuses on this message, specifically discussing the importance of the diversity of the Jewish community.
Parashat T'tzaveh goes into the elaborate sacred garments worn by kohanim, the priestly class. Ritual and sacred garb in faith communities - Jewish as well as other faiths - can be a source of identity and inspiration, as well as a link to our shared past. But sometimes, the rules and restrictions of religious garb can clash with expectations and experiences in modern life. Rabbi Rick Jacobs asks us to consider: what is it we wear that expresses who we are?
Parashat T'rumah describes building a mishkan, a sacred space, and the first central praying place in Jewish life. People were asked to give both their skills and their material possessions to build it, and together they created something both beautiful and portable. Rabbi Rick Jacobs asks us to consider: how do we learn how to build our own sacred spaces? What makes a space sacred? How do we balance the tensions between a modest, spiritual space and humbling grandeur? How do we define the heart of a community? How do we define what's real?