Gleaming gold and silver, precious jewels, and fine, embroidered tapestries. These were just a few of the beautiful objects and materials used to build and adorn the Tabernacle, that special house of worship that accompanied the Jewish people as they journeyed on their way to the Land of Israel over 3,000 years ago. The Tabernacle was a place of exquisite beauty, but it was much more. It was a place where beauty was also put to use for higher purposes by creating the ideal setting where people could connect to and feel closer to God.

This week's Torah portion, 'Trumah,' means 'lifted up' in Hebrew. God wants us to 'lift up' the beautiful and precious things in our lives, such as our special talents and cherished possessions. Rather than only using them for our own pleasure, we should also think of ways to use them to help others, and benefit the world around us. Then we're using God's gifts to their fullest potential, which is the greatest beauty of all.


In our story, a boy discovers a way to lift up his special talent, and reveal its true beauty.


When Evan Stern sat down at his Casio keyboard to play piano, he felt like he was in a different world. All his worries seemed to just melt away, and the rich tapestry of music made him feel both relaxed, and full of energy.

But hardly anybody, even his closest friends, knew about this part of Evan. He preferred to keep it to himself. It was his own, private little world of beauty and harmony. He would hardly ever play without his monitor headphones plugged in, which meant nobody else could hear.

Each day after school, he could sit with his headphones on, enwrapped in his own musical world. One day, since no one was home, Evan didn't bother plugging in the headphones, and for once the beautiful notes of his keyboard filled the house with their happy sounds. The boy was enjoying himself so much, that he didn't notice the pair of eyes staring at him through the open window.

While finishing his song, he sat up with a jolt as he heard his name being called. "Evan! That was so beautiful! I never knew you played the keyboard."

The boy blushed. It was Mrs. Silver, the next-door neighbor. "I just came by to visit your mom, but that gorgeous music made me stop in my tracks. You know what?" she went on, "I coordinate the activities program at the Home For The Elderly. The folks there need a lot of cheering up. Your music would do wonders for their spirits. Would you come and play for them? You could even come this Sunday."

Evan didn't know what to say. No one was supposed to have heard him play. The music was just for him, wasn't it? "Um, well ... my mom's not home from work yet. And about the music, I'm not really sure, I'll let you know, okay?"

Mrs. Silver smiled. "Of course. But, I do hope you say 'yes.' It will mean so much to those lonely people," she said as she headed back to her house.

Evan felt like the wind had been knocked out of him. He looked at his keyboard. He could have kicked himself for playing without his headphones. Now what was he going to do? He felt like if he played his music for others, it would lose its special beauty and meaning for him. But then again, he thought, "Those old folks probably don't get much beauty in their life either." He didn't know what to do.

To calm down, he plugged in his earphones and started to play. But he just couldn't get into the music. Nor could he get the thought of those lonely people who needed him out of his head. For better or worse, he knew what he had to do.

The recreation hall of the Home For The Elderly was packed. Evan felt nervous playing in front of so many people. He placed his hands on his keyboard, now hooked up to a large amplifier that the Home had provided. How different from his usual headphones, and his private musical moments. Would it really be okay?

He took a deep breath and started to play. From the very start, the notes just seemed to glide off his fingers. The audience sat, spellbound. Even he had to admit he sounded great. The old people began smiling, clapping, and even dancing, as Evan gave the concert of his life. He couldn't believe it. His music, now shared with others, seemed so much more alive, and even more beautiful than when he kept it to himself!

That was the day that changed Evan's life. Little by little he began to play his music publicly, bringing happiness to the people around him. He had learned the secret of how sharing his musical gift with others didn't make it less special, but rather made it so much more.


Ages 3-5

Q. How did Evan feel at first about sharing his music with others?
A. He didn't want to. He thought he would enjoy it more if he kept it to himself.

Q. How did he feel after he played for the elderly people?
A. He felt really happy that he did it, and realized that using his talent to help others made the music even more beautiful and special to him.

Ages 6-9

Q. Do you think that Evan made the right decision to share his music? Why?
A. While it wasn't easy to decide to share something so beautiful and precious, it was very rewarding, and the right thing to do. Everything we have in this world, whether our possessions or our talents, is a gift from God. God gave us these gifts to enhance our lives, and to share with others. When we find ways to share these gifts to bring good to others, we are living life to the fullest.

Q. Is it possible to use everything in the physical world for a higher, spiritual purpose?
A. Yes. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what we are in the world to do. Even the most mundane things can be uplifted with a little creativity. For example, the food we eat can give us an opportunity to thank God for His kindness in providing it, and our parents for buying and preparing it. To eat with the intention of keeping ourselves healthy and well, and then using the energy we've gotten from the food to do acts of kindness. That's a lot of spirituality out of one sandwich!

Q. What's a special talent or object you have that you could share with others?

Ages 10 and Up

Q. What does it mean to uplift the physical into the spiritual? What exactly are we 'lifting' anyway?
A. Everything in the world, even ourselves, is made up of both physical and spiritual components. God placed us into the physical world, with the goal to direct the physical toward a spiritual goal. When we do this, such as when Evan turned his music into a way to make lonely people happy, we uplift that physical activity into something with a powerful and everlasting spiritual value that is very precious to God, and will benefit us forever.

Q. Must one always share in order to uplift an item or talent?
A. Sometimes we need to hold things back for ourselves. For instance, there are times we need a break so we will have more to give to others later. When Evan was playing for himself in order to feel calmer and happier, he was also uplifting it, as God wants us to be calm and happy. However, in general, when we are able to transcend our own private wants and needs, and share the good we have with others, we exponentially increase their spiritual value, and at the same time uplift ourselves into greater people.

Q. What's a special talent or object you have that you could share with others?