- Exodus 35:1-38:20
- Kings II 11:17 – 12:17
- Hebrews 9:1-11
This weeks Torah portion begins with Moshe calling the entire congregation of Israel together. This is where the title is derived from, “And he assembled”. We begin reading about Shabbat being set aside and then donations of the people for the building of the Mishkan (The Tabernacle). Note that it makes clear that the donations were from those who’s heart moved them, indicating a voluntary donation.
But upon closer inspection, we begin to see the detailed list of each and every item that was being crafted by the wise hearted (chacham lev) individuals. Quickly our mind begins to take note of what exactly made up a plank or a curtain. Instead of giving a generalized overview of those collective parts, the Torah goes through great lengths to explicitly list the components that made up each piece.
For example, Exodus 36:20-34 list out every aspect of what the planks looks like. Just a portion is as follows:
“And for the Dwelling Place he made boards of acacia wood, standing up. The length of each board was ten cubits, and the width of each board a cubit and a half. Each board had two tenons for binding one to another. So he did to all the boards of the Dwelling Place. And he made boards for the Dwelling Place, twenty boards for the south side. And he made forty sockets of silver to go under the twenty boards, and two sockets under each of the boards for its two tenons. And for the other side of the Dwelling Place, for the north side, he made twenty boards, and their forty sockets of silver, two sockets under the one board, and two sockets under the other board.”-Shemot/Exodus 36:20-26
And that’s just half of the text! So now we must ask ourselves a question. If this portion is about “assembling” something as a whole, why is the focus on each piece? Why go through the trouble of listing the details of a single plank’s components when it seems as if we should focus on putting it all together? And most importantly, why does next week’s Parsha (Pekudei – An Account/Muster) deal with seeing everything put together? It’s as if the titles have been swapped.
I believe it is written this way to show us the value of the individual. Only when we gather everyone and everything together can we really see the importance of the individual. If it weren’t for the Tabernacle as a whole, the plank wouldn’t be needed to provide support for the walls. Taking it a step further, there would be no need for the sockets, the tenons, or the acacia wood itself. Without a unified goal, the individuality cannot come to life to see to it that the objective is reached.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe said it best. We first need to bring everyone together, regardless of their individual state. After that is done, the individual work can begin. This is what we’re seeing within our small community. We have united ourselves in a common goal and in unity with Messiah. Only now can we ascertain what role it is that we play within the big picture. So what is it that comes next? We let those who are wise in heart and skilled in their labor help shape us into the exact piece that we’re meant to be. Being the table for the Showbread sounds like a great honor, but if it weren’t for the poles to carry it, and the rings that held the poles, the table would have to be left behind each time the cloud moved. Be you and do your part with joy.