Candles Friday 15th at 5:11
Havdalah 16th at 6:07
The commentators disagree as to whether the Tabernacle was always part of the plan for the Israelite community or whether it was only introduced after the Golden Calf episode as a response to the need for some physical central focal point.
Religious life is a constant balance between the home and the synagogue, the private and the public. Torah requires of us to invest in both and that is why we have family meals, with blessings and celebrations at home and at the same time we come to the synagogue for services together. Sometimes the home takes priority and sometimes the community.
After the Israelites came out of Egypt they complained about the lack of water and food. This basic need seems to have overridden all the miracles that they were blessed with. Even the dramatic presence of God on Sinai could not stop the grumbling. It was only when everyone was involved in creating something, in building the Tabernacle, that there is no more mention of rebellion or dissatisfaction.
The fact is we humans need challenges and we need to be kept busy. On a personal level, we often get depressed or suffer setbacks. Complaining usually gets us nowhere. There’s no point in giving up and falling into paralysis. We need to be kept busy and set targets for ourselves each day. Similarly as a community we only come together when there is a project that requires our involvement.
That is why the chapters on the Tabernacle are so long and repetitive in contrast to the narrative and the laws, which are concise. It’s the constant discipline of having something to do that forces us to get on with our lives instead of giving up. The daily rituals have their benefits.
NEXT WEEK: Don’t forget on Saturday night, February 23rd, we will be reading the Megilah at 7 pm in our synagogue.