Whether you are “extremely stubborn and suspicious” like Michael or “rather inclined to giggle” like Jane, it’s important to know who you are and what you have to give. No one is “practically perfect,” other than Mary Poppins. Knowing your own measurements is being aware of your strengths and weaknesses and is about being able to offer your own particular gifts to yourself, to others and to the world around you.
This speaks to week’s Torah portion, Terumah, which opens with Moses commanding the Israelites to bring gifts for the sake of building the Tabernacle. Exodus 25:2 reads, “Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him.” The text then lists the numerous objects, including precious metals and dolphin skins, which will be used for the Tabernacle and its furnishings. Only then will God’s Presence dwell among the people.
Traditional Rabbinic interpreters spend a great deal of time dissecting the text and answering the obvious questions such as “how did a ragtag community of ex-slaves happen to possess precious metals? Or dolphin skin while wandering in the wilderness?”
But if we look beyond this literal interpretation, we understand that these gifts are symbolic of each and every person in the community. That, to create a space where God dwells, demands we accept the gifts each individual brings to the world. Only then can we be sure that God will dwell among us.
There is a well-known story about a Chassidic rabbi named Reb Zusha. His students once asked him about his greatest fear. He replied that he was not worried about living up to Moses or Abraham. Rather, his concern was that, upon his death, God would ask him, “Zusha, why weren’t you Zusha?”
For nothing is more practically perfect than that.