Originally written in 2007
The gist of these two parshot is the building of the Communion Tent according to the instructions from previous parshot, Terumah and Tetzaveh. I could go through and state every detail of what was done, however, every detail given was previously mentioned and thus, is merely reiteration. Instead, I’m going free style based on the parshot.
I notice that in speaking of the Sabbath laws the phrase, “no matter where you may live,” was included. Could this be a foreshadowing of the future exile from Israel? Perhaps, that was important because they were traveling and thus, once they made it to “the land of milk and honey,” they might be tempted to drop the Sabbath? Here, also, the Torah states not to ignite fire on Shabbos, but says nothing of any other type of work. Although, the Shabbos prohibitions that come to my mind stem from the prohibition against fire lighting.
When I read about how there was too much in the way of materials, this seems to warrant discussion to me. How come we don’t have this problem anymore? Are the Jewish People becoming superficial and thus, like the rest of the world? Also, let me note that the items brought to the building site were probably items borrowed without intention of return from the Egyptians. Because of that, the people would have been keenly aware that these items come from G-d. Unfortunately, in modern times, recognition that all comes from G-d is really only given lip service. If people really believed that, then why are they keeping up with the Cohens while synagogues and Jewish charities need money?
I would also like to use this opportunity to speak about the two menorahs. In Terumah, the purple Torah (Kaplan translation) has commentary that there is actually dispute as to what the original menorah really looked like. There’s the traditional menorah that even the gentiles know. Then there’s the Maimonides menorah. This menorah has straight branches instead of curved ones. I noticed one day walking down 108th Street that one of the Sephardic shuls had that menorah on their building and I processed this. While Maimonides is studied by both Orthodox and Sephardic Jews, I read somewhere that his teachings are more predominant within Sephardim. So I noticed that they put his interpretation, rather than the mainstream interpretation on their building. If you want my opinion, I’m going to bet they’re both wrong based on the fact that there’s differing opinions. Besides which, without the Temple, does it really matter?
I noticed that the incense altar is made in gold and the sacrificial altar made in copper. Being that the incense offering is regarded more highly than offerings, it makes sense that they use the more precious metal for this altar. There are fireplace tools and a screen for the sacrificial altar but not the incense altar. I suppose the incense altar wouldn’t get as messy as the sacrificial altar, as well.
I noticed when they made Aaron’s belt; it was made of wool and linen. I have heard and read amongst Jewish law, that you can’t mix the two for clothing. Is the mixture prohibited because it is a consecrated combination? Or could Aaron’s belt been scandalous?
In the last paragraph of Exodus, it speaks of how the Cloud of G-d would rise from the Tabernacle to indicate when the people were to move on. The Tabernacle was a tent, a temporary place. Earth is a temporary home for people before they go to the world to come. Any given Jewish neighborhood in America is a temporary home away from Israel. G-d is constantly effecting changing in our lives. The temporary should not be frowned upon as it is. Anything temporary is awaiting change, hopefully improvement rather than a downgrade.