This week’s parsha details (for the first time) the measurements and materials used in building the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the major ritual items inside it, to be used while traveling in the desert and, later, transferred to the Temple to be used there. It is unclear what the chronological order of the latter half of Shmot really is, whether Moshe is on Mount Sinai as he receives these instructions, or if he has already come down after hearing just the Ten Commandments (or the Ten Commandments and the criminal law code recounted in last week’s parsha) on the mountain. While the text is ambiguous on this point, I find it interesting that the text, ordered the way it is, highlights just how far the Israelites fall when they sin by creating and worshiping the Golden Calf. Here we have an institution – the Mishkan – that implicitly acknowledges humanity’s need for some physical representation of a deity to worship. The most famous verse of this parsha admits as much: “And they will make me a sanctuary, and I will dwell amongst them” (25:8, translation mine). However, before it can be implemented the Israelites become impatient and seek immediate gratification for their need of a tangible object to assuage their fears. The message to me from this period of Israelite history is that we must strive to live with uncertainty without rushing to conclusions that are a major divergence from our pasts.
Tempt a scared people
Away from God