March 26, 2019

The Tabernacle Is More than the Sum of Its Parts

“Design is something that is often on my mind. Not in a capacity as an architect, or an interior designer, nor even as the craftsman that I like to think that I am, but as an educator exploring the ways that by intentionally planning the use of physical space, learning experiences can be significantly enhanced, resulting in broader and deeper educational impact. Through the process of research, collaboration and drawing upon experiences from my own life, what has become abundantly clear to me, is that in the realm of design — it is all about the details.

In Parashat Pekudei, we read of the completion of the construction of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) as all the component parts are brought to Moses, who erects it, anoints it, and initiates Aaron and his four sons into the priesthood. After two passages (parshiot) of the details of the command to build the Mishkan, back in Parshat Terumah and Parshat Tetzaveh, in the parshiot of last week and this, Vayakhel and Pekudei, we read many of the same details, in much the same language, as the Torah now tells us that those commands were all fulfilled.

The fulfillment seems critically important here. It is as if the Torah tells us: you know what is going to happen, now watch as it is fulfilled, and pay careful attention as it all unfolds. Each detail, each step, each piece of metal, each color of dye, and each sheet of fabric. Each one is worth our attention, not just in the instruction manual, but in the description of the actual construction.”

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