Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Symbols we Carry

Parshat Terumah
Shmot 25:1 – 27:19
2 Adar 5772 / Feb. 24 – 25, 2012

The Symbols we Carry
by Jonathan Morgan, MH Portland

I wouldn’t exactly say that (on the surface) Terumah is the most action packed parashah. The summary is simple... Terumah is mostly a technical instruction manual on how to build the mishkan. Wood, poles, cubits of fabric...but the larger picture is rather beautiful when taken in context. The Israelites have the 10 commandments at this time and they need to house a portable way. It accompanied the Israelites on their journey, and once erect and assembled in the center of their camp, the mishkan (tabernacle) contained the Holy of Holies. As a side note, I found it interesting that just as creation in B’raisheet took six days, the construction of the mishkan is found in six sections. When you dissect the parashah even more, this message of a second creation becomes even more inspiring because its theme is the creation of peoplehood.

The receiving of the 10 commandments was an open interaction with G-d, and the construction and use of the mishkan was a concealed compact version. It was their emblem of the covenant with G-d and it got me thinking about our symbols in our lives. Israelites had the mishkan, and our emblems are Star of David necklaces, books, and mezuzot. These are the things we take with us on our journey to remind us of our brit, just as the mishkan did in the days of old.

Terumah also features the introduction of the menorah. Aside from the obvious symbols of light, there is another hidden message during the fabrication of the menorah from the description and assembly instructions in the Torah. Basically Moses could not for the life of him construct a menorah from G-d’s description. (See Pashat Vayakel in a few weeks.) Bezalel instead was the one who could construct it properly. The lesson we learn here is that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and we all bring something unique and irreplaceable to the table. No matter how impressive other people may seem, each individual person is a unique gift to humanity (even when compared to Moses). As Rabbi Bradley Artson, of the AJU, says, “the light of G-d’s love, justice, and concern can illuminate the world only through the individual light that we shine through our deeds, our communities, and our performance of the menorah of old, we can illuminate the world.”


Post a Comment