5 Adar 5773
This week’s parsha is Terumah, translated from Hebrew as “offering” or “gift”, covering Exodus 25:1-27:19. In Terumah, the architectural and furnishing requirements for the construction and maintenance of the Taberbnacle are laid out in fine detail. In this parsha, the Israelites are instructed to bring their finest materials to erect the Ark of the Covenant, craft a gold menorah, display the Showbread and establish a differentiation between holy and most holy places.
N.B. Showbread (לחם הפנים) is just what is sounds like, a stack of bread or cakes that are left on a table as an offering, translated literally as “bread in the presence”. Made by the Kohathites according to a secret recipe, the breads were replaced each week on Shabbat. Priests could eat the leftovers, as long as they did so in a holy place.
To take the task of building a Tabernacle on today would require supplies not easily found at your big box or local building supply store, such as a measuring tool for handbreadths and cubits, ram skins, gold and silver, acacia wood and most challenging, a chilazo- a creature described by the Rabbis as having wool, being colored like the sea and shaped like a fish, that only appears every 70 years and whose blood is used to dye thread turquoise for ceremonial purposes. Not native to the Pacific Northwest.
For further reading:
Translation via JTS: http://learn.jtsa.edu/content/translations/terumah/torah-portion/terumah
Union of Reformed Judaism: http://urj.org/holidays/shabbat/intro/exodus/?syspage=article&item_id=4230
Rabbi Ted Falcon: http://www.rabbitedfalcon.com/weekly-focus/
and animated at G-dcast: http://www.g-dcast.com/terumah