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Torah Sparks

February 8, 2003 - 5763

Annual Cycle: Exodus 25:1 - 27:19 (Hertz, p. 326; Etz Hayim, p. 485)
Triennial Cycle II: Exodus 26:1 - 6:30 (Hertz, p. 330; Etz Hayim, p. 491)
Haftarah: I Kings 5:26 - 6:13 (Hertz, p. 336; Etz Hayim, p. 500)

Prepared by Rabbi Lee Buckman
Head of School, Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit

Department of Services to Affiliated Congregations
Rabbi Martin J. Pasternak, Director

Torah Portion Summary

(25:1-9) God commands that donations be taken from the Israelites for the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

(25:10-40) Instructions for making the Ark and its covering, the table and its accessories, and the Menorah.

(26:1-30) Detailed instructions for the making of the Mishkan: the cloth covering, the gold clasps, and the goat hair tent over the Mishkan. Instructions regarding the 48 planks of the Mishkan, and their joining above by means of the rings, and inside by means of wooden bars.

(26:31-35) The curtain dividing the Tabernacle and screening the Holy of Holies where the Ark was placed.

(26:36-27:19) The screen for the entrance, the altar, and the enclosure or courtyard of the Mishkan.

Discussion Theme: Inner Beauty

"You shall then make cloths of goats' hair for a tent over the Tabernacle; make the cloths eleven in number." (Exodus 26:7)

  1. The coverings that serve as the roof... comprise four separate layers... The lowest layer is to comprise ten multicolored sheets of fine linen decorated with the cherubim motif... A coarser covering made of goats' hair was to be laid above the linen fabric. (Nachum Sarna)
  2. Paradoxically, given all the splendor with which the tabernacle was decorated within-the planks that were covered with gold, the strips of cloth made of fine twisted linen of blue, purple and crimson yarns, the vessels made of gold and the precious stones-the tabernacle was, nevertheless, covered on the outside with simple sheets made of goat's hair. This is to teach that the essence is internal beauty and splendor, not the externals of wealth which only arouse jealousy and hatred (Rabbi Y. Jacobson in Itturei Hatorah)
  3. What is the meaning of nobility? A person possessing nobility is one whose hidden wealth surpasses his outward wealth, whose hidden treasures exceed his obvious treasures, whose inner depth surpasses by far that which he reveals. Refinement is found only where inwardness is greater than outward appearance. The hidden is greater than the obvious, depth greater than breadth. Nobility is the redeemed quality which rises within the soul when it exchanges the transient for the permanent, the useful for the valuable... We have learned that one can be a villain even though very cultured and expert in science. The possibility of saving the world from destruction depends on the recognition that there is a supreme criterion by which we must evaluate all human values and that there is something that rises above all the achievements of the arts and sciences... How easy it is to be attracted by outward beauty, and how it is to remove the mask and penetrate to that which is inside. If a Greek poet, for example, had arrived at Samaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Israel he would have been surprised and overcome with emotion; he would have praised and lauded in verse the idols, the beautiful temples and palaces which the kings of Israel and their ministers had built. But the prophet Amos, after visiting Samaria, did not sing, nor did he bow to the glory of the ivory buildings. When he looked at the buildings of carved stone, at the ivory temples and beautiful orchards, he saw in them the oppression of the poor, robbery and plunder. External magnificence neither entranced him nor led him astray. (A.J. Heschel "Pikuach Neshama: To Save a Soul")

Sparks for Reflection

How do we teach children that the criterion by which we should judge beauty is integrity, truth or goodness? As adults, how would our marketing and purchasing habits change if we took these criteria seriously? Some of the latest fashions were sewn together with the sweat and tears of the underpaid. What is beauty if it is acquired at the cost of justice?

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