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Torah Sparks

March 24, 2001 - 5761

Prepared by Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg
Temple Sinai, Hollywood, FL

Edited by Rabbi David L. Blumenfeld, PhD
Department of Services to Affiliated Congregations

Annual Cycle: Exodus 35:1-40:38; Hertz Chumash, p. 373
Triennial Cycle III: Exodus 39:22-40:38; Hertz Chumash, p.387
Maftir: Exodus 12:1-20
Haftarah: Ezekiel 45:16-46:18

(35:1-3) An additional warning about observing the Shabbat.

(35:4-36:7) God instructs Moses to collect all the contributions and prepare the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Betzalel and Oholiav are appointed to supervise its fabrication. The people of Israel bring their gifts in extravagant measure, and Moses tells them that no more is needed.

(36:8-39:21) The making of the cloth walls, roof, planks and bars of the Mishkan; the making of the Parochet (cloth partition) and curtain for its doorway; the construction of its various vessels; an accounting of the materials used in building it; a description of the fashioning of the Ephod (priest's outer garment) and the breastplate.

(39:22-31) A description of the fashioning of the priestly garments.

(39:32-43) The Mishkan and its vessels are brought to Moses, and he blesses and sanctifies them.

(40:1-16) God commands Moses to set up the Mishkan and to anoint and consecrate Aaron and his sons as priests.

(40:17-33) Moses sets up the Mishkan as instructed.

(40:34-38) God causes His Shekhinah (Holy Presence), indicated by the cloud, to dwell in the Tent of Meeting.

Discussion Theme: A Change of Perspective

The robe for the ephod was made of woven work, of pure blue. (Exodus 39:22)

  1. In Exodus 39:22 this garment is described as "woven work." It seems to have been ankle length, with armholes but no sleeves, and rather free flowing. The neck opening is reinforced to prevent fraying. The hem of the robe is fringed with tassels of three colors representing pomegranates, and with gold bells. Other biblical references to the robe suggest a garment distinctive of persons of high social rank. (Nachum Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary on Ex. 28:31; p. 182)
  2. Beruriah the Scholar teaches: The Torah describes the women in the wilderness who spin linen and goat's hair "with their hands" as "wise hearted (Ex. 35:25) Similarly, in the book of Proverbs (31:13, 19, 22, 24-25), a "woman of valor" is described largely in terms of her weaving skills: "She looks for wool and flax, and sets her hand to them with a will... She sets her hand to the distaff; Her fingers work the spindle...He makes covers for herself: her clothing is linen and purple...He makes cloth and sells it, and offers a girdle to the merchant. She is clothes with strength and splendor." (Ellen Frankel, The Five Books Of Miriam; p. 147-8)
  3. The following are the kinds of work a wife must perform for her husband: grinding wheat, baking bread, washing clothes, cooking, nursing her child, making her husband's bed, and working in wool. If she brought him one bond woman (in her dowry) she need not grind, bake, or wash. If she brought two bond women, she need not cook nor nurse her child. If three, she need not make her husband's bed or work in wool. If four, she may lounge all day in an easy chair. Rabbi Eliezer said: Even if she brought him a hundred bond women, he may compel her to work in wool, for idleness leads to unchastity. Rabbi Simeon be Gamaliel said: if a man forbids his wife under a vow to do any work, he must divorce her and pay her the amount stipulated in the Ketubbah, for idleness leads to stupefaction. (Talmud Ketubot 59b)

Discussion Sparks:

Some interesting views concerning women above - eh? So what is your reaction to them?

One thing though - among so many other things that we may derive from the above texts - we might carry away from this a sense of recognition of the many contributions of time and effort that our loved ones make on our behalf and we take it all for granted.

Also, we just might want to extend this thought a bit and remind ourselves that there are other people in our lives who do things for us all day long but we don't take the time to be fully aware of them? Maybe we should chat a little bit more with the building staff, etc. etc. than just the usual "hi" and "bye"? Getting to know more about them and about their families would certainly add a warmer dimension to our lives.

As we conclude the reading of the Book of Exodus, let us rise while the last verse of the Torah portion is read. At the completion of the reading, we join in chanting: Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek - "Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened."

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