Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue
Stanmore and Canons Park Synagogue

Thought for the Week

Thought for the Week

Terumah 5778 – Charity Scandals

It would be tempting to sit back smugly, and gleefully observe one of this country's most well-known charities facing serious and damaging charges over the disgraceful and appalling behaviour of many of its staff overseas. It is a charity with a less than stellar record when it comes to Israel - to put it mildly. A record based on shameful distortions and falsehoods, peddled by some of the worst anti-Semites. 

Yet, if one is to point an accusing finger at this particular charity, then one must be consistent. One must be honest enough to admit that all is not well with some of our own organisations and charities. We are not immune to the scourge of corruption and malpractice.

Tellingly, Jewish organisations and charities have an extra motivation, and responsibility, to be cleaner than clean. Any action performed by a Jew, both individually and collectively, will either bring honour and glory to the portrayal of G-d, or the opposite. Our duty is to be exemplary - all the time. Only then can we fulfil our mandate to be a light unto the nations.

Coincidentally, by Divine Providence, charity is the central theme of the readings of these weeks. The word Terumah means a contribution towards charity and the common cause. First comes the instruction. Then the Torah reports on the outcome of the charity drive. The amount donated by the people was spectacular, extraordinary and phenomenal.

When the Torah adds it all up, it goes into the minutiae. Each item is accounted for. Any suspicion that Moses and the hierarchy would syphon off some of the funds was debunked and dispelled by itemising what was actually given - and exactly where it all went. The common project of building a House to G-d was to be whiter than white.

It also created a template for how Jewish charities and organisations should be run. Financially, morally and above contempt. Next week we will examine how this was enacted into jewish law and practice.

RABBI MENDEL LEW