Rabbi Jack Paskoff

Rabbi Jack Paskoff

Is it finished?

Is what finished?

You’ve been working on this for a long time. What’s going on?

I’ll ask again: Is what finished?

The Tabernacle. You know, all the gold, silver and copper. The blue, purple and crimson yarns. The dolphin skins. (Dolphin skins? In the desert? Really?)

But God ...

I told you, “Build me a sanctuary, so that I have a place to live among you.”

I know, God, but have you heard of COVID-19 — you know, coronavirus? Oh yeah, I guess you created that one too. Thanks a lot! And everyone knows that construction projects never go as scheduled.

This is urgent! Who knows where you’ll put your attention if you’re not serving that which is godly.

Are we serving that which is godly, or are we building you a house? Now I’m confused.

You really don’t get it, do you? Do you really think I need a house? Do you really think I could fit in a house? I need you to have a place to look. I need you to have a physical reminder of what’s most important. It’s kind of like joining the gym that you drive past every day instead of the one a mile away. You see it and you feel guilty if you don’t go in. And you know how bad it was when you didn’t have that kind of reminder. You built a golden calf. You have all found idols I never imagined. So no, it’s not for me. I don’t need you to build a house for God. I need you to build a godly house.

Uh, God? That’s all well and good, but we’re not supposed to go anywhere. How are people going to get to this house you have in mind?

You people have created all kinds of things. You take your phones with you wherever you go. I’ve read some of the stuff you post on Facebook, and most of it is pretty dumb. I bet, with a little thought, you can figure this out.

Look, I don’t care if you follow Hillel (“That which is hateful to you, do not do unto others”), Jesus (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), or An-Nawawi (“None of you believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself”). Is it really that hard?

Maybe it’s not that hard, but it would really be a whole lot easier if you just sent us the cure. Is that too much to ask?

Do you really want to debate this now? There are people who need you. Remember all the stuff about the widow, the orphan and the stranger? And not just them. All of the most vulnerable.

Don’t forget your neighbor who was just laid off because the business is closed for these two weeks. And be thoughtful about it. You know how proud she is. Don’t ask her if she needs help. Leave a bag of food at her door. She doesn’t need to feel like the object of someone’s charity. Let’s protect her dignity. It can even be easier. Pick up your phone for something other than your 10,000th game of Words With Friends. It’s simple: “Are you feeling OK? I’m worried about you being home alone. Would it be OK if I just called to check in once a day? You really mean a lot to me.”

OK, God. But about that cure? How about it?

You want me to handle that? I told you you’re created in my image. You don’t think you actually look like me, do you? I look like nothing and I look like everything. My image means that I gave you brains, I gave you the ability to create. I gave you the ability to make choices. What are you waiting for? You have your work to do.

So it’s not really about gold and silver and copper? It’s not about acacia wood? Did you ever try making anything out of those little gnarled trees?

I already live among you. I live everywhere. Now’s your chance to show me that I live within you, too. Each and every one of you. Get to work!

(Offered with prayers for healing and peace.)

Jack Paskoff is rabbi at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster. He also is a correspondent for LNP. Email: jpaskoff@shaarai.org.