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The portion for Terumah in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll that visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot, was sponsored by Temple Beth Sholom, Cherry Hill, NJ.

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February 24, 2012 / 1 Adar, 5772
Parashat Terumah

I Kings 5:26 - 6:13

Imagine you had a project. It could be a personal one or it might be part of your job if you worked for a large or multi-national corporation. The project theoretically represented what you hoped would stimulate others to change their behavior, to turn over a new leaf. It was what you imagined would be the most important accomplishment of your life. It was your legacy.

But it was expensive and in order to bring the project in within budget and on time you needed to employ men and pay them substandard wages and house them in less than healthy facilities. It was a difficult decision but you reasoned that the greater good resulting from the success of this project, justified your behavior.

This morning’s haftarah details Solomon’s activities when he agreed to build a Temple to God. He was gifted with wisdom and wisely established a strategic alliance, a fair trade treaty, with his neighbor Hiram, King of Tyre. Hiram had the necessary raw materials needed to build the Temple but unfortunately, Solomon; the good and wise King couldn’t afford it. He had a negative balance of trade. What to do?

The Temple represented the highest, purist ideals of mankind. Its structure and the services that supported it were intended to stimulate humankind to strive to better themselves. Unfortunately, high ideals were expensive and in order to fulfill his dream Solomon was forced to enact drastic measures. He “imposed forced labor on all of Israel” and forcibly enlisted 30,000 men and sent them to Lebanon in shifts of 10,000 a month. In addition Solomon impressed 150,000 workers to quarry and carry the stones needed to be mined and shipped to Jerusalem. The text refers to this army of laborers being supervised by Solomon’s bureaucracy but doesn’t comment on their working conditions.

Imagine forced labor in the Middle East? Men subjugated to years of servititude who were unable to return to their families because they had to support a government project! When reading this haftarah, I couldn’t help but recall the Prophet Samuel’s attempts to discourage the tribes from creating a monarchy precisely for these reasons.

It causes one to wonder if the construction of the Temple was flawed from its inception how could God speak to Solomon and say, “With regard to this House…if you follow my laws and observe my rules and faithfully keep my commandments, I will never forsake my people Israel.”

Unlike the Tabernacle in this morning’s Torah portion; a structure which was constructed from freewill offerings, this morning’s haftarah hints that the need for personal aggrandizement, too often will trump (no pun intended) the greater moral goals.

Perhaps that’s why the rabbis linked the Torah portion with Solomon’s story, to remind us that a foundation needs to be morally sound, because if not, it is eventually going to crumble and fail.

This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of the FJMC and author of "Building A Successful Volunteer Culture: Finding Meaning in Service in the Jewish" Jewish Lights Publishing.

NEW! We welcome online comments on The Unraveller. Enter them at the bottom of the page on the new Unraveller blog (fjmc-unraveller.blogspot.com).

New Publications

Leadership - Innovation - Community
Understanding the Haftarot:
An Everyperson's Guide

In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
You can purchase it a number of ways:
It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!

HeneniThe "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life. Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin. A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice. Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes. Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression. Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event. The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin. The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.

World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Bar Mitzvah Wrap!

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