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Getting excited for the right reason

היופי של עם ישראל

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

My WhatsApp is exploding, and not just mine. First grade kids who want to send letters to the Jews of Ukraine, a family with an empty apartment that wants to host new immigrants, people asking when the next plane from Ukraine is arriving at the airport so they can welcome it, and numerous prayer initiatives and donation campaigns.

Sometimes it seems as if there is not a single Israeli who does not think these days about what he can do to help.

On Shabbat we finished reading the book of Exodus with its emotional description of the completion of the Mishkan, the spiritual center that accompanied us in the desert. This apparently was the first crowd funding endeavor of our people, a massive donation campaign in which every contributor gave above and beyond his capactiy and all bonded together through an uplifting common cause.

But our sages remind us that just a short time before, a portion of this same people that was now happily building the Mishkan had been making a golden calf and dancing around it. In our own days, there is the beautiful Israeli and the Israeli who is sometimes less than that. And so our sages stated: "To assess the character of this nation is not a simple matter since when there is a demand to make a golden calf they give, yet when there is a demand to build a Mishkan, they also give."

In other words, here is a nation with a special character, with much energy, with a tendency to get excited, to get carried away, to join causes with incredible enthusiasm. But this can be dangerous since we might give of ourselves without measure whether a Mishkan or a golden calf is the object of our devotion.

The choice is in our hands, and it's a constant test for each of us. If only we will learn to channel our excitement appropriately, and know when going above an beyond is the right thing to do.

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