Please believe me; I am being haunted by Michael Jackson’s glove! Each time I move my cursor over an icon, his single white glove appears. I want to click on an image; there it is again! It’s everywhere on my computer. I can’t dance like him. I don’t even know any of his songs, but for some reason he has been reaching out to me on my computer.
Why me? I can already hear many of you claiming seeing the same glove on your computers. But, do you feel haunted? Aha! You probably didn’t even know whose glove it is on your computer. It’s my response that makes my case different.
Which is exactly the point: We can all share an experience, but each of us has our own response. It is our response that matters, and often defines us. “From every man whose heart motivates him you shall take My portion.” God did not ask for a single response to the appeal for materials to build the Mishkan, or Tabernacle. He wanted all sorts of different responses. “They shall make a Sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them,” I will dwell in the heart of each participant, explains Rabbi Shlomo of Radomsk. We may all share in the central House of God, but His Presence is found in each individual heart and response to Him, His Torah, Mitzvot, and service. This focus on each individual is what made the Mishkan the longest lasting of all the Houses of God.
We share the same Torah, Mitzvot and prayers, but we must each pay attention to our inner response. We cannot afford to join a collective experience and ignore our own. We will end up with a Sanctuary, but no, “In their midst.”
The Menorah, the symbol of the Oral Law, was made from one single piece of gold and branched out, its branches the different views we each have, still part of the unity, the same trunk.
This ability to see the uniqueness of each individual was a significant part of Moshe’s greatness. How else could he have taught us Torah in a way that would live forever, a Torat Chaim? This is the true genius of Torah, and as my friend R likes to quote: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” (Arthur Schopenhauer) Many people bemoan their lack of talent for studying Torah. They forget that the “genius” of Torah is part of its gift to each who learns to listen to his own heart.
We drink and make merry on Purim so that we can relax our inhibitions just enough to learn to pay attention to our individual responses.
I wish each of you a Shabbat that is uniquely yours.
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg