In Essays

Parsha Terumah | God Goes IKEA for the Tabernacle

Me, bored and reading Parsha Terumah // Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Terumah, Exodus 25:1 – 27:19. Click here to read last week’s, Parsha Mishpatim.

I can’t muster much to say about this Parsha. Gut reaction? It’s boring and not particularly interesting. Any lesson derived from this text would feel like trying to make a diamond out of a turd.

The text for this Parsha contains painfully specific instructions from the Lord on how the Israelites should honor Him with gifts and how they should construct the Tabernacle to carry the Ten Commandments. Here’s just a taste.

“Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him.”

Don’t we all know that person? “I mean, sure, get me a gift if you feel like it. You don’t need to, but if you feel so moved, I wouldn’t say no…”

That’s fine coming from the mouth of a friend or relative, but the creator of life as we know it? Seems off. But in case you’re wondering, some of the gifts the Lord will accept are “blue, purple and crimson yarns, fine linen” and in case you don’t have any of that on hand, you could package up some “goat hair” or perhaps “dolphin skins.”

You’re a curious fella, God.

Then we get to the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, which dominates this Parsha. Again, I’ll leave you with just a taste.

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold––overlay it inside and out––and make upon it a gold molding round about.”

Who would’ve thought God had such a taste for gold? And this goes on and on and on and on. So the next time you get frustrated with some IKEA directions, please spare a thought for those Israelites who had God to work with.

Slow Moving Torah

This Parsha comes at a time when I’m personally starting to tire of the text––and I share that because I want to be honest about where I’m at in this little writing experiment for posterity. Despite my initial skepticism, I did get to a place where I actually looked forward to reading the weekly Parsha.

As much as I struggled early on with the bizarre longevity of Torah figures, I eventually could see how far more studied folks could find moral lessons in the text. I started to find them myself and eve saw myself and society in Genesis.

But Exodus hasn’t struck me the same way. Perhaps because I’m tainted with a pop culture understanding of the story that dives deeper into Moses and Pharaoh’s relationship. But the actual source text blows right through the story. And what for? So we can get this riveting retelling of God, the handyman?

I’ll keep going because there are only a few more Parshas in Exodus before we get to books I’m, at this moment, largely ignorant of. Plus I’ve generally found that you get to some good stuff when you push through the boring bits. But Lord have mercy, I hope the Torah starts picking up again soon.

Onward with Parsha Tetzaveh.

You Might Also Like