Thursday, March 22, 2007

A quick recap of last week's parshah (there were really two of them!):

I didn't get a chance last week to blog on the parshah(s), which was pretty crumby, but things came up and with the GREAT MOVE to Chicago, there was a lot going on. The move ended up going pretty well, despite some initial catastrophes with picking up the car and having to drive through a decent snowstorm. But we made it. On my way to the airport to pick up Ian, I got through last week's parshah pretty quickly. So I'm simply going to transcribe some of my notes that I took, if not for the inquiry of the reader, then for me, myself and I in future adventures in Torah study.

+ Ex. 35:3 -- "you shall kindle no fire." The comments suggest that some sages saw "fire" in both a literal and metaphorical sense, as in one shouldn't harbor anger on the Sabbath. What if that is ALL that phrase meant? And our whole concept of not starting fires and popping on lights is a misinterpretation of a phrase that could be interpreted at face value, but wrong?

+ Ex. 35:31 -- Rashi has an interesting take on skill, ability and knowledge (this, of course, in reference to Bezalel who is tasked with doing this and that and everything else). The comments read:
"Rashi defines 'skill' (hokhmah) as what a person learns from others, 'ability' (t'vunah) as the result of one's own insight and experience and 'knowledge' (da'at) as divine inspiration, ideas that suddenly come to a person from an unknown source."
I suppose I'm fascinatd by this because I'd never thought about the difference in the words, or, rather, the significance of each.

+ "Wisdom of the mind alone, without wisdom of the heart, is worthless." -- Aaaron of Karlin (a Hasidic master, on Ex. 36:1)

+ Ex. 34:2-7: Why is it significant to emphasize the people bringing TOO MUCH? There's several lines ... but why?

+ In the construction of the tabernacle, the word adanim is used multiple times (its meaning is translated as "sockets"). The word derives from a similar source as Adonai. The adanim hold together the upper and lower portions of the ark, just as Adonai holds together the upper (spiritual) and lower (material) worlds together. -- Menahem Naham of Chernobyl

+ What is the significance of blue, purple and crimson? The colors are used in the yarn, but it appears in stained glass and facades of synagogues the world over, not to mention on holy garments and utensils and dishes. I can't seem to find a source who really delves into the meaning of such colors, though. The search continues!

+ Why is there SO MUCH gold that goes into the tabernacle? Why is it that G-d's place need be so extravagant? I'm not one to believe that G-d must be crowned king in the way that human kings are adorned in gold ... it just seems wrong and not representative of the Israelite G-d. Am I nuts to be so irritated at the EXTENSIVE use of gold?

+ What is the significance of the cloud? Why does G-d descend in a cloud?

+ The comments at the end of parshah P'kudei are incredibly profound. I must share the thoughts of the Etz Chayim:
"There are moments (a wedding, the birth of a child, an escape from danger) when G-d erupts into our lives with a special intesnity that transforms us but that is too intense to be lived constantly. Then there are times when G-d is a constant presence in our livies (marriage, parenthood, years of good health) in an equally real but less intense manner. The challenge is to recognize G-d's constant presence in our lives without its becoming so ordinary that we take it for granted."
True it is. How is it that we keep G-d as a constant? How, through the day in and day out, the mundane and ever-changing/never-changing that we maintain a constant hum within ourselves of the divine presence? It is a challenge I'm willing to take on, of course.


Guaranteed, there will be comments on this week's parshah, as we begin ... the book of Leviticus!

Shalom. Be well!