Thursday, February 23, 2012

Some Assembly Required

Parshat Terumah - A Fast Course in Civil Engineering:  This week's Torah portion, Parshat Terumah, provides a comprehensive set of Do It Yourself instructions to the Children of Israel on how to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

As we all know, the Children of Israel had to do it themselves, since the Holy One, Blessed Be He, declined to get involved.

Abq Jew is glad that building the Mishkan was up to the Children of Israel, because (as with most new gadgets) he is convinced that the adults couldn't have figured it out.

Yes, Children, when you are young, the most important three words are "I love you."  When you get older, the most important three words are "Enclosed find check."

But the most frightening three words at any age are "Some assembly required."

This week the Torah Reader (Abq Jew is reading some at B'nai Israel) gets to sing the DIY instructions to the congregation.  Pay attention!  There's going to be a quiz!

But don't worry - as always, G-dcast has you covered!  They've put out a Cliff's Notes for the parasha, in the form of a cool and wonderfully informative video.
What would YOU build to house your most precious possessions? Who would you hire as the architect? Furniture designer Rafael Kushick helps us understand the divinely architected blueprints for the holiest - and most confusing - building project ever attempted.
This is Episode 19 of the weekly Torah cartoon from Each week, a different storyteller - some musical, some poetic, some just straight-up, tell the story of the current Torah portion ... and then G-dcast animates it.  What a terrific resource!

Many commentators have asked: Why does G-d spend so much time, not to mention ink and parchment, in describing just how things should be done?

The best explanation Abq Jew has heard comes from Rabbi Mark Cooper, currently of Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange, NJ; and formerly of Temple Beth Ahm in Aberdeen, NJ - Abq Jew's shul and home for eighteen years.

Rabbi Cooper's insight is: G-d simply didn't want the Children of Israel - or the adults - to argue about this.  Better they should argue about important things - how to live Jewish lives, how to fix the world - especially, how to fix the world.

The Mishkan?  In the end - it's just a building.


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