Sharing: The New Give & Take

Shared responsibility enables everyone in the community to depend on each other.

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Reprinted with permission from Torah Topics for Today.

Though giving demands more of us, many of us have more trouble receiving help than giving it. When we are able to help others, we are declaring ourselves in a secure enough position to help another – this is easy. But it can be hard for our self-image to acknowledge that we need the help of another and that we can’t provide for all of our own needs. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. We are dependent creatures and at various points in our lives we will give more, and at others we will receive more. In sum, we are creatures who share.

This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, tells of the collection of supplies to build the Tabernacle that will be used while the Children of Israel are wandering in the desert. Rather than commanding each household or each tribe to contribute a certain amount, everyone is told to contribute as they are able. No one is keeping track of contributions, of who was able to give more and who was able to give less. In the end, the Tabernacle will belong to everyone equally.

This is the image of a community that is dynamic and interdependent. They are all contributing to the community, with no one feeling bad for contributing less, no one feeling smug for contributing more. This kind of shared responsibility enables everyone in the community to depend on each other, allowing all members to contribute when they are able, while allowing them to receive when they need. It allows that at different times different people will be in different places. Imagine if we could allow this flexibility and care for ourselves!

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how each of you gives to each other and receives from each other.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· When do you help others? Must they always ask?

· How does it feel when you need to ask for help?

· Does sharing feel like giving or receiving?Or both?

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Judith Greenberg was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary. She is now a rabbi and new mother living in Chicago.