Learning Their Keep: Terumah 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: What kind of learner are you? Do you learn best by watching, hearing, or doing?

As God gives Moses instructions for building the Tabernacle, a solitary verse is included to encourage Moses to follow through with what he has learned:

The Pitch: “Note well, and follow the patterns for them that are being shown you on the mountain.” – Exodus 25:40

Swing #1: “[The Law itself] is the transcendental basing of life in symbolic actions. Transcendental reality can be portrayed in human reality.” – Hartmut Gese, Essays on Biblical Theology

Swing #2: “This reference to Moses’s being show the pattern on the mountain reflects an effort to anchor the instructions for the Tabernacle, which look like an independent literary unit, in the narrative context that in effect they disrupt.” – Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation With Commentary

Swing #3: “This visual resource [of being shown] is found, as [Umberto] Cassuto points out, ‘in the very passages where the lack of details is most noticeable.’ ‘Much of what is essential [for the purpose of fashioning the Tabernacle] is not in the Book.’” – Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Particulars of Rapture

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators seem to think that words alone are enough to instruct the Israelites how to build the Tabernacle? Is it possible that God showed them how to do so through other means? How do the best teachers get their points across?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: This year’s Purim celebration will have a truly international flavor. Join us for Purim Around the World on Monday, March 9th, starting with food from various countries at 6PM, then our Megillah reading featuring customs from different communities starting at 7PM. And don’t forget to bring items for the Kosher Food Pantry — you’ll get a raffle ticket for every item you bring!

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of learning and teaching, it’s interesting that very few Hall of Famers have become successful Major League managers. Stan Musial, for instance — one of the all-time greats — was an ineffective batting coach, allegedly because he wasn’t able to convey what made him so special as a hitter. This, of course, takes nothing away from his on-field greatness.

Shabbat Shalom!