This week's Parsha starts with a very strange commandment. Moshe is told that he must collect donations from every single Jew to build the Mishkan,the tabernacle. However, the Torah immediately states that thee donations must be voluntary. Why the discrepancy?
It was crucially important that everybody feel ownership over the Mishkan, as that would be the centre of the community.
It would be the place that Israel and G-d would meet and speak. It would be the focal point of the lives of everyone in the camp. Everyone would have to feel at home there. Everyone would have to feel like they contributed something to it, like it was there's. However, it was equally important that everyone picked what they wanted to contribute, that the contributions have an individual character. If the contributions were a tax, levelled on everyone equally, it would give everyone a sense of ownership, but in so doing would rob them of agency.
The Mishkan was a symbol not just of our unity and not just of our connection
with G-d, it was a symbol of our ability to carry out our dreams, to grow in the direction that we wished.
These principles came out in the Purim miracle as well. Purim is the story of how G-d saved us, of ho he gave us the leaders that we needed at the time that we needed them, but it is also the story of how even in exile, we could come together.
Everyone fasted for three days for the success of Queen Esther, and just as much as we would not have survived without her courage and ingenuity, we would not have survived without everyone's repentance. Everyone participated in that endeavour at their own level, in their own way, and the results were clear.
In our communal life, these principles remain equally important. We must both all feel that our communal institutions belong to everyone, and yet feel that we can make a unique contribution as well. It will continue to weave
the rich tapestry of communal life which we have been so privileged to receive.