Let’s Talk About Following Instructions

Between Us

Steven A. Rakitt

Good morning,

Putting together children’s toys, as I’ve done countless times for children and grandchildren, seems simple enough. Why bother with the instructions? Three hours later, I’m often lost, frustrated and of course have the proverbial “extra bolt” left over. The directions are right there, but we often think we can navigate our way without them.

This week’s parasha – Terumah – contains extraordinarily detailed instructions on the construction of the mishkan, the dwelling for God. “Make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them,” said God. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner says about this phrase and what he calls the ‘religious enterprise’ of building sanctuaries, “You have to do something so that God, who is not there, can be.” Why would the Children of Israel be commanded to create a tangible dwelling for an omnipresent Being? The answer, perhaps, is that the physical dwelling/building/Temple/synagogue/shul calls to us to create community, to behave justly, and to treat each other fairly. Such an important purpose requires detailed instructions, creative architects, thoughtful engineers and dedicated builders.

The directions for building the mishkan were provided by God, and were followed to the letter, unlike what I’ve often done with my kids’ ill-constructed games. The Torah also contains instructions, some clearer than others. And it’s our responsibility to study and try to understand them. The world we work hard to construct daily, in spite of the roadblocks often in the way, should seek to follow these instructions carefully.

Steven A. Rakitt, Chief Executive Officer

Here are four ways to Make It Yours this week: