“If you build it, I will come”

No, Shoeless Joe Jackson does not make an appearance in this week’s Torah portion. (If you missed the reference, please leave a comment and I will fill you in later in the week.)

In this week’s parsha, Terumah, God commands the Jewish people to build the Tabernacle or Mishkan as a place to serve him during their time in the desert. However, God promises the Jews that this place will be much more than a place of service; it will be a place for the presence of God himself to constantly be amongst his people. As the passage says: “Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell amongst you” (25:8).

The Torah describes, in great detail, the structure itself, along with each vessel used within. Furthermore, the Torah describes how the nation brought donations for the actual construction of the Mishkan. The Mishkan and each of its vessels required unique materials, most of which were donated by the people in the desert. However, there seems to be one exception.

The Torah prescribes that the beams of the Mishkan be made from “shitim” trees. Seemingly, some sort of cedar. Believe it or not, there were no “shitim” trees to be found in the desert. Cactus, yes; “shitim” no. Where then did they come from?

Our sages tell us that our father Jacob actually planted the trees in Egypt and before his death commanded his sons to take the trees with them when they would eventually leave Egypt and enter the desert. Jacob told his sons that, in the future, God would command them to build a Mishkan and use “shitim” trees for its beams.

This week’s food for thought is: Out of all the materials that were needed to build the Mishkan, why specifically did Jacob prepare the “shitim” trees? What was it about the beams of the Mishkan that he found it so imperative for his sons to “schlep” these huge trees out of Egypt? What did he see and what was he preparing for?

Chew on it. Let me know what you think. And please…have a wonderful week.

P.S. Join Mesorah DC @ 6th & I this Friday night. Visit www.MesorahDC.org for more info.