Last week a young man was arrested for allegedly calling in bomb threats to JCC's and Jewish Day Schools across North America. That wave of terror had elicited fear and anxiety in the Jewish community and had many wondering about the sudden rise in antisemitism. Though many interfaith initiatives were formed to fight the tide of hatred, and these efforts are ongoing and fruitful, it has many people laying blame for the bigotry.
It turns out that the man arrested is an Israeli-American Jew whom many news outlets reported as having a brain tumor which has caused him to exhibit erratic and irrational behavior. It is shameful and tragic that most of these hate crimes - not the cemetery desecrations - may have been caused by someone Jewish, one of our own. And this raises questions such as why and what should we have done to prevent this?
Our portion last shabbat offers interesting insight. The reading described the construction of the of the desert sanctuary, its utensils and the priestly vestments. The people followed through on all the details and once it was completed Moses blessed their work. What was the prayer that Moses offered? The Torah is silent. I would imagine that the prayer should have included this thought: that the sanctuary will be holy as long as the people themselves are committed to be holy. Though the people devoted much time and effort on the sacred task, they shouldn't have been left with the idea that the building itself is holy and will make them holy. The people still need to observe the commandments. The people still need to incorporate Jewish values into their lives. Once they recognize their obligation to the laws and to one another then they can make the sanctuary holy.
We need to recognize, as the rabbinic statement teaches, that all of Israel is responsible for one another. We need to ensure that all people, especially the poor, ill and disadvantaged, are integral to the life and welfare of the entire community. Once we seek them out, provide for their needs, and ensure their valued place in society then we can achieve our sanctity. Once we do then we can fulfill God's command, " build Me a sanctuary so that I can dwell among you".