Our ancestors this week are at Mount Sinai, getting instructions for creating a conscious society. Throughout most of the month, we read about the instructions, design and materials for the desert sanctuary. This week's torah reading, Parshat Ki Tisa, begins with the phrase "When you count... (literally, lift)... each Israelite, they shall bring half a shekel" The counting is accomplished by the coin or measure that each person gives. The gold thus contributed will be molded into the forms and tools of the sacred space - the desert sanctuary built in the midst of the camp.
We ourselves, the "half measure" we bring, is our gift to creating the sacred space. The rich and the poor all offer the same amount. Each is represented equally. The goal of this gift - and this sanctaury we build - is to lift us up. To give, to be counted and to be lifted up are all rolled into this metaphor.
It is always our job to make a space into which holiness can shine thru us into the world. Individually and collectively, this is the Jewish understanding of our purpose here. Essentially, we bring heaven to earth. This is the idea of "lifting."
One important piece here is that we give half a measure - incomplete, not whole. Our side of the equation is necessary and required, yet inadequate. Inadeqate as we are, we must be counted. Collectively, each contributing our part, a sacred container arises. Something much bigger than each of us, even all of us. Something of a different level.
To be worthy and empowered to give and also humble - knowing about our natural "halfness" - is something of a spiritual balancing act. There is advise here for our collective work as well, in the temple community and in our wider circles. There is so little we can do alone and what we wish to accomplish might be bigger than any of our efforts. Yet we bring our part - humbly, gratefully, with others, and trust that something sacred is established.
So may it be. Shabbat Shalom