Parsha Trumah — a higher calling

Jeffrey Levine
8 min readFeb 15, 2024

We are looking at giving ourselves to God and we look at the root of what Trumah means, to lift up. We see this in the heroic actions of our soldiers who have lifted themselves up to a higher calling and given of their lives, given of their bodies and separated themselves from their families, civilian lives and jobs to help fight this evil. And this is a big sacrifice, this is a higher calling.

I want to share an anecdote from Rabbi Pinni Dunner who quoted Douglas Murray;

“What left the deepest impression on me, and I believe on all of those who joined our solidarity mission, was best expressed by my friend Douglas Murray, the heroic reporter whose daily dispatches from Israel since October 7th have become compulsory watching for everyone hungry for factual journalism in a world dominated by lies and distortion. Douglas joined us for dinner on the mission’s second night, and after giving us his analysis of the current crisis, he shared a conversation he had had with an Israeli man in his 60s which stirred him emotionally in a way that nothing else has since he arrived in Israel in October.

He said something to me that was incredibly moving,” Douglas revealed. “We were talking about what Israel is going through, and what his generation, people in their 60s, had been through — and he said to me, impromptu: ‘I owe the younger generation an apology, because over recent years I have thought, and used to say to people: they’re on Instagram, they’re on Twitter, they go to parties — they’re just after pleasure. But I owe them an apology, because they have stepped up — like my generation did, and like previous generations did.’”

That’s when it hit me. The thing that most impressed me in Israel during this visit, and on my two other visits since October 7th, was the younger generation. In which other Westernized country would kids in their teens and 20s clamor to go into battle to defend their homeland? I vividly recall the exodus of military-age men from both Russia and Ukraine after war broke out between those two countries in early 2022. So much so, that both countries restricted movement for young men, stopping them at the border and preventing them from leaving. Israel’s experience has been the polar opposite, with young Israelis flying home from all over the world to join their military units and go into combat.”

This dialogue reflects a bold reality and future. The response of the young generation today, how they left everything to take up this fight, fight against evil. And how they thought that the generation of the iPhone would never rise to this challenge. And we can see a bigger picture playing here. This is a higher calling in the fight against evil.

When I look back at what I wrote last year about Israel finding its central purpose and the whole combination of the Israel Protests and the United Nations double standards against Israel, and and how much worse it is today.

I see that these soldiers have found a higher calling. They recognize that this is an eternal fight for Israel’s freedom, an eternal fight for the order of justice in the world and a fight for God. And we, the people of Israel, need to recognize this and internalize it.

And we need to say, first of all, we need to have appreciation. We do have a real sense of appreciation and gratitude for the soldiers, the families who gave up their lives. And it would be an injustice to these soldiers if we, the people of Israel, don’t rise to bring in Unity and a more compassionate society.

It would be a call for unity, it would be a high moral calling, it would be a sense of history and destiny. And the words I wrote last year are even more poignant as we reflect on them. That if we cannot find a higher calling as a Jewish country, under a merciful God, then the death and the injury of these soldiers will be in vain.

I wrote last year — The challenge today is to find Israel’s “voice”. Well, we found it !!

What I wrote last year….

Parsha trauma — Finding God’s Voice in this world

There is an incredible passage in this week’s reading.

וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖י בְּתוֹכָֽם׃

And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.

In other words, if we make a sanctuary — a holy place for God will dwell it . So, lets expand on the word holy place. If we are holy or “good” then God will be with us. So, if the world is good, then God will reveal his goodness.

If we as the people of modern Israel are a sanctuary, then God will be with us. Despite all our success God does not appear to be with us. We have Terror, World condemnation and more. If God was us then, surely terror would stop and the world support for the sole Jewish State would follow.

We must be doing something wrong. This week, we saw condemnation by the UN, interference by the world in the Israel political system, and mass protests against the threat to democracy.

Last week we read Parsha Mishpatim — laws — the first set of laws in human history given some 3,400 years ago to grant rights and provide rules for the payment of damages for our actions. So, without calling for a holy war, maybe it is a new time for the constitution of Israel to bring in a Torah-based law approach.

And what is this? Let’s look at Rav Kook wrote:

“The value of the Torah’s law and judgment system is very great. It sets the unique stamp of Torat Chayim-The Torah of Life on the Torah. It is most necessary for the Torah to be an illuminating force that impacts the actual practical activities of life. It should not be valued only for its exalted wisdom.”

Democracy as we see is not a perfect system. Democracy is not even a value. It is a best a flawed system where the elites get to control the common people. That is why there is a need for the Justice system to protect minorities. And we have no greater example than Jewish Ethics and Torah Values.

If we follow the laws of the Torah, that means we should not pity those enemies who try to kill us. The Torah does not mince its words. It says No Negotiations with these people.

Be that as it may, the Torah does not mince its words, provide some wishy washing tip-toeing words to placate our enemies — It calls for expulsion. But today, these words or actions or not politically correct. (Unless you are Palestinian)

The challenge today is to find Israel’s “voice”

In a very important 1906 essay, Rav Kook wrote:

“The strengthening of all aspects of our nation’s life is dependent on the strengthening of our spiritual character. This, in turn, depends on experiencing illumination from the spiritual realm, from the universal consciousness that will bring the spirit of humankind and the world to complete harmony in the messianic age….

The preparation of the spiritual character of our nation for unification with this universal consciousness is made possible through the higher ‘moral Torah’. It conveys the divine revelation of morality and wisdom through the mitzvot commandments that were given as tools for human refinement…The thrust of the Divine good is discernible in every part of this eternal Torah…

The higher ‘moral Torah’ will enable the Divine psychic force hidden in the soul of Israel to be aroused. The refined spirit of wisdom and morality will come to life again…Every heart will then be pervaded with an inner love, tranquil and confident.

In every cultivated soul, there will then be revealed the pulsating action of the universal Divine psyche. It will express itself in vision and in song. Its impact will be felt everywhere.

At first, it will make itself felt primarily among the people of Israel, and before long, it will also be felt throughout humankind….and the joy of heaven and earth will return as in ancient days.

The higher ‘moral Torah’ is concerned with the quest for universal good, the absolute good that will positively affect all existence…The movement of the universal good is embraced through its laws. It gives expression to the morality and justice that is at the heart of reality…” (Hanir Journal, 1906, later published in Ma’amarei HaRayah)

https://haorot.com/mishpatim-laws-of-good

We thus have to be very careful that our engagement in the theoretical Torah does not prevent the Torah from having a controlling influence on practical life. It is only when it does that the purpose of the Torah will manifest itself fully in reality.

In an article featured in the Jerusalem Post

Israel must return to its Zionist roots to move forward — opinion

https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-732080

By YOAZ HENDEL Published: FEBRUARY 20, 2023 02:49

“Let’s remember where it all started: Zionism, a national homeland for the Jewish people. This necessitates defending our homeland, settling, making aliyah and absorption. Yet above all, it is the vision of a model society, a light unto the nations. It is pretty simple, actually. It’s what every first grader should be learning if only the majority of first graders were still enrolled in the basic Zionist educational system.

A Zionist government is a government that is also committed to the ideal of a model society. How can we possibly explain such a strenuous effort to reinstate as a minister a twice-convicted criminal offender?

Instead of saying who we are against and who we are not, we need to be able to say who we are. I know who I am: right-wing, liberal, and a proud and relentless Zionist. And I know that, like me, there are many others, thousands, indeed tens of thousands of right-wing, proud, secular Jews, as well as religious Zionists who do not identify with Smotrich.”

At this point, we can go back to Rav Kook and tie in the missing pieces:

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook ZT”L was/is the Cohen Gadol/High Priest of our epoch. He wrote extensively about the reconnection of the reborn Israel with the living Shechina.

In 1912 in Yaffo he wrote: “The light of the Shechina-Divine presence is in Knesset Yisrael-The Community of Israel. The Israelite ideal [לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט- To Do Righteousness and Justice (Br.18:19)] dwells in the entire people. It forms it into one unit for all its generations.

Everything is blessed when this light is revealed in the Land [of Israel] and when it manifests into the life of action and thought.

It will strike waves in the ocean of life. Everything will be blessed, everything will rise.

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Jeffrey Levine

Jeffrey Levine provides CFO, Director, ESG Advisory Services through www.persofi.com and is a promoter of ideas and trends where Innovation meets ESG