“Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him” (Exodus 25:2)
“And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8)
In this week’s Torah portion, God gives a direction to the people, using new language. This is the first time that God says that the people should be “moved” to participate. Previously, God’s directions were commandments of what to do. What is so different about the sanctuary that God uses the language of people giving from their hearts?
I think the answer lies in the 8th verse, quoted above, “…so that I may dwell among them” Perhaps in order for God to dwell among the people, to inhabit a sacred space, people have to open their hearts. Perhaps we can only experience God, the divine or transcendence when we welcome having the experience. As much as the God of the Torah can create, destroy, show anger and compassion, a spiritual relationship with God can only be formed if we humans engage as well.
If we look at the tabernacle as a metaphor, as we go inward, the space becomes more sacred. We move from the outer courtyards inwards towards the Holy of Holies. Isn’t that how it is with the heart? The deeper we feel the more special or “sacred” something becomes to us. Maybe it is exactly that which moves us, which inspires us, that invites the sacred into our lives.
What opens your heart? When do you experience those sacred moments?
For me there are different types of moments.
There are the in between moments: Moments when the intangible, eternal traits that have no beginning or no end like love, caring, and hope are shared between people. Moments of compassion, empathy, truly caring for one another.
There are the awe inspired by nature moments, like looking at the starry sky from a desert location, watching the ocean.
There are the moved by the arts inspired moments, especially when experiencing or performing high quality music, theater, dance, or viewing art and architecture.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner teaches that the Jewish questions isn’t whether or not you believe in God, it is “where do you experience God?”
When does your heart move you just enough so that you let yourself have that moment of transcendence?
Perhaps that which we are moved to do, that which inspires us, is directly connected to our view of God and our ability to allow or invite God to live among us. When we allow ourselves that moment of inspiration, we are allowing ourselves a piece of divinity.