Purposefully Blue

The peculiar blue [תכלת, tekhelet] thread used in tzitzit [ritual fringes] (Numbers 15:37-41) also appears prominently in the construction of Tabernacle (Exodus 25ff). It is used in the inner curtains and the loops that connect them; it also appears throughout the priestly vestments. Why this blue? It has been taught: R. Meir used to say: […]

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Folding, Half-Shekels, and Ego

One of the 30-cubit, goat-hair curtains on the outside of the Tabernacle is folded over the front of the tent (Exodus 26:9; see Thirty Cubits and Cloaking) for more on the curtains). Two aspects of this are emphasized in the commentary of Kedushat Levi, among others: Folding: Folding [כפל, khaphal] is related to the idea […]

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Cloaking Improves Vision

Readers of Moby Dick have long skimmed the whaling sections. Love-story followers generally hurry through the “war” part of War and Peace, while others skip through the boring relationship stuff to focus on land distribution. Likewise, many Bible readers’ eyes glaze over at the close of Exodus: Some 200+ Torah verses describe plans for the […]

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Thirty Cubits in the Tabernacle

The inside of the Tabernacle, the desert worship space of the Israelites, is 30 cubits long. (This is worked out from directions for various components, described in Exodus 26-27.) An inside covering is composed of ten panels of “twisted linen, and indigo and purple and crimson, with cherubim, designer’s work,” each measuring 28 cubits by […]

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Naso: Prayer Links

Toward the close of parashat Naso, twelve princes bring identical gifts as a dedication offering for the tabernacle (Bamidbar/Numbers 7:10 – 88). Twelve times, the same five verses, with minor variations of the “mail-merge” sort at the open and close, appear: The one who presented his offering on the {INSERT: ORDINAL} day was {INSERT: NAME} […]

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Vayakhel: Language and Translation

Moses said to the Children of Israel, “See, HASHEM has proclaimed by name, Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. He filled him with Godly spirit, with wisdom, insight, and knowledge, and with every craft…”

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Pekudei: Something to Notice

The colors. Before we complete the Tabernacle and leave Exodus/Shemot, I must pause to consider the oft-mentioned color trio: “tekhelet, v’argaman v’tolaat shani.” These colors are central in the tent instructions/construction and appear throughout the priestly garments. The same colors are, of course, prominent in contemporary Jewish textiles and other arts. Tekhelet — Blue, Sky […]

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Vayakhel: A Path to Follow

In this portion, and this portion alone, the women of the children of Israel are identified as a significant group within the larger whole,” writes R. Nancy H. Weiner in her dvar Torah, “Of Women and Mirrors.” The Torah unequivocally highlights that women are participating in the single most important sacred endeavor of the community […]

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Vayakhel: Something to Notice

“…but the materials were more than enough [vehoter] for all the work that had to be done.” — Exodus/Shemot 36:7 Construction of the Tabernacle in the desert was an act that paralleled the creation of heaven and earth and corresponded to all known aspects of the order in which G’d created the universe, (B’rachot 55). […]

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