News From Ramaz
By Rabbi Justin Pines, MS Mashgiach Ruchani
Sunday night was a cool night to be a Jew in America. As far as I can tell, for the first time, the star of the Super Bowl halftime show was Jewish, and the MVP of the game identifies as Jewish. In addition, as some of you may know, the owner of the winning team, Robert Kraft, is not only Jewish, but a pillar of the Jewish community. Those of you who will spend the year in Israel after high school and join the flag football league will play at the Kraft stadium. For me personally, when I was in law school and a group of us wanted to organize a trip to bring our Jewish and non-Jewish peers to Israel for the first time, Mr. Kraft was one of our biggest supporters.
This week, before the Super Bowl, there was a video going around in which a man places a note in the Kotel on behalf of Robert Kraft. The letter reads:
"I ask for bracha and hatzalacha in the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday game. Hashem should bless me that I may continue to be a conduit for tzedakah and chesed for all of Klal Yisroel and Eretz Yisroel. Robert Kraft."
I love this note because Mr. Kraft recognizes that the gifts he has are from Hashem, and that he must use those gifts to serve Hashem.
The same idea can be found in our Torah portion, Parashat Terumah. Hashem asks our ancestors to build a mishkan. Everyone gave whatever they had: precious metals, dyed wools and hides, flax, wood, olive oil, spices and gems.
And the same is true for us. Every single person in this room has gifts from HaShem. We have an obligation to identify and develop our gifts, and then to use our gifts to serve Hashem.
If you have the gift of humor - you are funny - think about how you use it to serve Hashem as opposed to how it can be used to serve your Yetzer HaRa? You can bring a smile to someone's face who is having a tough day, or you can use humor to make fun of someone to make yourself feel better.
Or, what if you are an exceptional basketball player. Do you hog the basketball to show your skills, or are you good enough to make your teammates better and make sure multiple people get touches?
Let's say you're gifted with computers. Are you building programs which help people, or which allow people to break laws?
Or, you have great social skills - and a lot of friends. Are you doing something positive with that?
What's your Terumah? Like Robert Kraft, how can you take your gifts and be a conduit for Hashem?