Ark-itecture: Pekudei 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: What aspect of your synagogue’s sanctuary is most meaningful for you? How does it make you feel? Are there any aspects that don’t make much of a difference to you?

With the Tabernacle finally complete, Moses puts the finishing touches on the Ark, arguably the Tabernacle’s centerpiece:

The Pitch: “[Moses] took the Pact and placed it in the ark; he fixed the poles to the ark [and] placed the cover on top of the ark.” – Exodus 40:20

Swing #1: “What is it that gave the Ark pride of place? Nothing other than its unique contents. As its name suggests, the Ark held the symbol of the covenant, the tablets of the Ten Commandments. It served as a shrine for the nation’s foundational text, the indisputable evidence of its collective experience of revelation at Mount Sinai. At the same time, the presence of the tablets held out the promise of encounters to come.” – Ismar Schorsch, Canon Without Closure: Torah Commentaries

Swing #2: “The Covenant, ‘edut, is a synonym for berit, the other common biblical term for pact, treaty, or covenant, and it clearly refers to the two stone tablets on which the words of the Covenant were written by the finger of God. The Tabernacle, then, has a double function: it is the place where sacrifices are offered, as in all ancient Near Eastern cults, and it is the place where the material document of an eternal contract between God and Israel is preserved. Though the burnt-offering altar is called ‘holy of holies’, the supreme locus of the sacrosanct, the concrete nexus between humanity and the divine, is the Ark within which the tablets of the Covenant are kept.” – Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

Swing #3: “He took the tablets from the wooden ark that was in his tent and brought them to the golden ark in the Tabernacle.” – Ramban

Late-Inning Questions: What do you make of the idea that Moses kept the tablets from Mount Sinai in his tent before the Ark was completed? Might there have been a better place to store them temporarily? What do our commentators think is the Ark’s main purpose? What is the most valuable item that you keep behind closed doors?

On-Deck at TBT: We can’t wait for Purim! Click here for information about our food donation raffle, pickup pasta dinner, and Megillah reading (both in-person and over Zoom) that we’ll get to enjoy Wednesday, March 16th.

The Big Inning at the End: If I can’t say anything nice about MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, I shouldn’t say anything at all. Hence, all I can say is …

Shabbat Shalom!