Telephone Torah Study: Making a Place for God
God and Israel kiss and make up after the Golden Calf fiasco in this week’s Torah portion, Vayak’heil (Ex. 35:1-38:20). Join in on our weekly Telephone Torah Study this Thursday 4-5pm, to learn more on this week’s portion: Dial 702-851-4044, when prompted punch in 2, then our pass code 22252#.
At the beginning of Parashat Vayak’heil Moses convokes the entire community and reiterates the commandment on Shabbat observance:
These are the things that the Eternal has commanded you to do: On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you have a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Eternal, whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your settlements on the sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:1-3)
Then Moses instructs them regarding the building of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle or portable sanctuary), which would accompany them through the wilderness and which presaged the building of the Temple. The Creation of the world and the building of the Mishkan are parallel activities. Through them we see how time and space are both the locus of potential sanctification.
In The Sabbath1, Abraham Joshua Heschel writes:
Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time. . . . Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans nor the Germans were able to burn; a shrine that even apostasy cannot easily obliterate.”
The sanctification of time makes Judaism portable and turns us away from an overemphasis on the building of edifices that honor the builders more than the Creator of the Universe. However, ourparashah describes the building of the Mishkan as a divinely ordained project that requires crafts people of great skill and a project supervisor, Bezalel, who is endowed with “a divine spirit (ruach Elohim) of skill (chochmah), ability (t’vunah), and knowledge (daat) in every kind of craft” (Exodus 35:31; 31:3). The work follows an architectural blueprint provided by God. So inspiring is the project that the community volunteers to provide more resources than are required and Moses has to instruct them to stop making donations. The people are inspired by the building of sacred space, which is meant to draw them to the Presence of the Divine.
To join in on the conference call, please dial 702-851-4044, when prompted punch in 2, then our pass code 22252#.
1. And all the women who excelled in that skill spun the goat’s hair. (Ex. 35:26)
2. Thus the Israelites, all the men and women whose hearts moved them to bring anything for the work that Adonai, through Moses, had commanded to be done, brought it as a freewill offering to Adonai. (Ex. 35:29)
3. And [the artisans] said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than is needed for the tasks entailed in the work that Adonai has commanded to be done!” (Ex.36:5)