“Parsha and Purpose” – Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Kindness as an Antidote to Isolation”

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Kindness as an Antidote to Isolation: Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

I’m recording this on the Sunday of the week when we read the parsha of Vayakhel-Pekudei, a parsha that many of us may not be able to hear, for all the right halakhic reasons, because it’s forbidden for us to go to shul.

This is a trying time for all of us, throughout the world community, and the parsha has a message for us, and that is, that we need to be “kindness commandos.”

Vayakhel. The parsha starts off by saying that Moshe gathered the people. He gathered the people to announce the building of the Mishkan, a conduit for a conversation, an interaction with God. Exodus 35:1

This week, we cannot gather as a community. We are challenged by the health risks that face us. We cannot be together as a community, but we can still act as a community.

For every single person whose hand we can’t shake, we can reach out with a phone call. For every single person whom we may not be able to hug, we can engage in a different way. When we go to the store to buy food for ourselves, let’s ask ourselves: is there someone else who needs a little extra?

Imagine the message that we give to our children, a message that will be much more profound than anything they can learn in school, if we show them that social distancing doesn’t mean that we ignore the other.

This is the time for Vayakhel. This is the time for us to come together and honor the message of the parsha. Maybe we cannot come together physically, but spiritually we can connect. This is a time for us to get to know ourselves better. It’s a time for us to get to know our families better. It’s a time of Vayakhel. It’s a time to come together.

Let’s be “kindness commandos,” to ourselves, and be healthy, to our families, to our children and grandchildren, to our spouses, to the larger world society. Let’s remember, that even though we can’t hug somebody and we can’t shake their hand, we can still show that we care.

Shabbat Shalom.


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