Starting with T’rumah last week, the final sedrot of Sh’mot deal almost exclusively with the Tabernacle and all its furniture and furnishings. Some sages say that what is happening here is a mirror image of the Creation as described at the beginning of Bereshit. In the latter, God creates the world for us to live in. In the case of the Tabernacle, we create a space for God to dwell in. This is a beautiful idea. There is also a very practical aspect and possible foresight to the extraordinarily detailed instructions for the building and filling of the Tabernacle. The blueprint provided has enabled us, once the second Temple was destroyed, to build synagogues which incorporate aspects of the Tabernacle. There is also another piece of brilliance in the work passed on by Moses from God to the people. Accustomed to relentless years of forced labour, they now find themselves in the wilderness with not a great deal to do beyond the sporadic journeying from one place to another. There is not much point in building houses, nor in clearing and planting fields. Food falls literally from the skies. So much unaccustomed idleness in a strange and sometimes hostile environment could only add to the feeling of insecurity and discontent already bubbling under the surface. What better solution than for the people to be given a task, not this time for the glory of an oppressive regime, but for the glory of God? What is more, rather than toil in the back-breaking and spirit-numbing drudgery of making and carrying endless quantities of bricks, now the Israelites are asked to take part in the creative, fulfilling tasks of carving, sculpting, dyeing and weaving of beautiful, meaningful objects.
Much of T’tzavveh is occupied with the design of the priestly vestments, which will reinforce the role of the priests as the link between God and the people, for the priests are both “Holy to God” and the focal point of all the tribes.
Come along this Saturday at 10:30 and share in our creative thoughts, songs, prayers and conversation. Sharim Atilano will bring it all together.