This week’s Parsha describes the accounting made of the gold, silver and copper donated by the people for the making of the Tabernacle. We read about the successful completion of the venture, the dedication ceremony, and Moses blesses each person for their contribution: He thanks each person for their individual donation, and the teams of craftsperson and volunteers that made this vision a reality. As individuals and as a collective, they gave of their possessions, time, heart, mind, skills, and spirit to build something incredible.
Often, when we encounter a daunting task, an immense vision, or a dream that seems unattainable – we are reluctant to even try. How can one individual make a difference? Do we even matter? How can we affect change?
You are not expected to complete the task, but neither are you free to avoid it.– Rabbi Tarfon (Ethics of our Fathers)
Moses considers each donation and act of support equally; he blesses them all. One small act is not just a small, ineffective act in a vacuum; collectively each small act comes together to make a vision come true. Additionally, the many small acts inspire and serve as a catalyst for the influencers and those in positions of power to act.
This is a timely message that echoes the teaching in Ethics of our Fathers by Rabbi Tarfon:
לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה
‘Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo atah ben chorin l’hivatel mimena’
“You are not expected to complete the task, but neither are you free to avoid it”
There is no doubt that today the task for a peaceful, kinder, more G-dly world seems so unattainable, that we may ask – why even try, what can “little me” do? This week’s Parsha reminds us that we must act, and when each individual does their best, when they utilize their unique abilities, talents, opportunities, time, and passion, then collectively we will make a difference: not only by the sum of our parts – but by inspiring further change that can shift the entire direction of our existence.