Hanoch Shalev
Former Shaliach in Melbourne


Has the Torah come off its tracks or has it decided to join the children of Israel in their strenuous search for the ultimate Purim costume?? It seems the Book of Moshe, with laws and lore, has taken on an architectural trend, portraying orderly and refreshingly right-angled descriptions of kli and cloth. This, after making it very clear that to be a nation we need a stringent system of laws!

The four-parasha-series of Truma, Tetzave, Vayakhel and Pekudei make a lot of sense within themselves. Detailed blueprints, clear-cut HowTos, skilled artists at work and more. The question arises as to their mere presence in a book of law, not to mention their breaking up by a stony set of tablets in parashat Ki-Tisa. And so, we must set on a journey of order vs. entropy, trying to reveal an inner truth of the explicit phenomenon.

Clearly, by title and repetition, the key word in our solution is ORDER. Hashem, with Moshe to his right, is determined to mold a nation out of this assembly of slaves and to do so there are tracks to put down. This is obvious whilst hearing the Ten Commandments which in fact flow smoothly into parashat Mishpatim as the Torah shifts into a practical phase. But is that all? Are we truly only Am HaSefer [=”The” Nation of the Book]? A nation “doomed” to walk a narrow path of “Depart from evil” (Sur Me’ra) and live a life that a breath is taken only if the air is Kosher? If to put the question into a right-angled summary – Does Hashem intend on molding a clear-cut, right-angled cube?

Yes. There is greatness in a cube and this is to be conveyed to the People of Israel prior to their receiving Tablets of stone. There is a danger of idol worshiping, of worshiping the Luchot themselves. Superficiality. Therefore parashat Truma and Tetzave take it upon themselves the task of preparing the hearts and minds of Am Israel before completing the covenant of Matan Torah with the receiving of the Tablets.

Hashem details the structure and contents of the Mishkan. There are no secrets as to what exists in the tent and as to its structure and role. Nevertheless, most of Am Israel probably never actually saw the interior for the mere reason of not beingCohanim. Hashem expressed his desire, so to speak, to dwell amongst us and for this, a Mishkan is to be built. There is no doubt as to Hashem’s transcendental being, considering the recent strong experience of Har-Sinai. This is complex! The transcendental and abstract dwell within physical parameters?

This complexity is simplified when understanding the power of confining. We are expected to understand how the borders themselves are those which enable the mere presence. The lips and teeth and tongue are the borders which enable and produce the words transmitting abstract thoughts in parcels and creating communication. Confining, as it might seem to those banging their heads daily against the barrier instead of looking down the illuminated path, is the order that enables expression and the barrier directs the flow.

The world has witnessed the breathtaking moment of life or annihilation at Har-Sinai. It is now up to Am Israel to cherish, nurture and publicize this understanding, that there is an order to this entropy-oriented world, the order of Torah, in the mundane, world of a 4 by 4 cubical amot of actual life.

Truma and Mishpatim walk hand in hand, reminding us that He is present; reminding us that there is order to the law, order to the life and order to be exposed.

That being the case, the Torah is indeed joining in on the Purim shpiel. Dressing up on Purim reminds us that there exists a unique and personal identity behind every mask. Nature (3D) and History (time) have united to become the longest Purim shpiel ever. Hashem is waiting actively for us to figure out who is behind this mask, who’s beyond the ark.

We shall solve this riddle without tearing the mask apart. And when we do, we will have completed our side of “Ve’asu li mikdash” [=”And” let them make Me a sanctuary] only to find out that He has always been “Ve’shachanti be’to’cham” [=”I” may dwell among them].

Shabbat Shalom