24/25 February 2023, 4 Adar 5783

This week I opened an email from Boots, the Chemist, offering an opt out of Mother’s Day publicity, if one’s heart wasn’t willing. I was impressed by the sensitivity for those without mothers, those who mourn not being mothers or indeed just having uneasy relationships with mothers or children. We might think this level of sensitivity is new, but it’s not. There is evidence in Torah, this week’s parasha even, that ultimately everyone is motived by their own desires and comfort levels. Boots, the Chemist appreciates that and so did God in talking to Moses appealing gently to the hearts of others.

Speak to the children of Israel and have them take for ME a gift from every person whose heart inspires them to generosity….

Rashi explains this expression of the person whose heart inspires refers to willingness, openness etc.

Rashi explains that in old French, this refers to willingness, openness, “an expression of good will in French,” all to be given voluntarily, that is the most important thing.

We in the business of community organising, of enabling and empowering others to be part of things, understand that everyone gives of themselves when they want to, when they feel seen and their hearts motivate them. In other words, there must be self-interest. I think a great deal about that and how we nurture a congregation that should inspire this and be a place where we operate sensitively and ultimately, encourage willing hearts.

This Shabbat Rafael and I will be visiting Ruben in Scotland and our services here at FPS will be led by our phenomenal lay leaders whose hearts are very much willing and able.

Shabbat Shalom,