Detailed Instructions – A poem for Parsha Terumah

Who doesn't love detailed instructions?
February 15, 2024
Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images; helena babanovaGetty Images

And you shall make its pots to remove its ashes, and its shovels and its sprinkling basins and its flesh hooks and its scoops; you shall make all its implements of copper. ~Exodus 27:3

I appreciate a good set of instructions
where there is no room for interpretation
and all the materials are provided.

I recall ordering a build-your-own couch
from a place. My mother-in-law asked
can’t you just buy a couch?

I could have, but we got to pick all the options
and it came in a few boxes, and it was all done
on the internet which made it seem like it was for me.

Imagine our delight when the compressed cushions
exploded into their natural shapes, ready for placement
and our eventual tushies!

A single screw was missing which led to
an ongoing fear that the right armrest was
never properly connected, and years’ worth of

reminders to our child (who started out so small
and now is the Paul Bunyan of our house) that
he should never sit on that part of the couch.

This is what it was like for us when we
got our first set of instructions by the mountain.
We were fresh out of Egypt and hardly knew

anything but slavery. So when we were told
to gather acacia wood, we did. Anything but
building treasure cities for someone else.

We put in the flesh hooks just like we were told.
Its scoops too. No screws were missing.
Not like in the couch which we left in that old house.

Gone from our personal history like the ark
we made at the foot of the mountain.
All we have left are the instructions.

Rick Lupert, a poet, songleader and graphic designer, is the author of 27 books including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion.” Find him online at www.JewishPoetry.net

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.