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    Architecture in the Torah – T’rumah

    Tabernacle MishkanVerse after verse in this week’s portion specifies how the Israelites are to make the tabernacle. The measurements, the materials, the method of construction – all are laid down in massive detail.

    Non-architects who follow the Torah reading sometimes complain that there is nothing in these sections to interest them. Yet suddenly there comes a word, a phrase or sentence that gives us a gem of spirituality and wisdom, and we wonder how we could have missed its message over the years.

    Perhaps the finest example is Exodus 26:6. It talks about clasps and curtains… and then it says, v’hayah hamishkan echad, “that the tabernacle may be one whole”.

    The verse is not just for architects but for everyone. The building must have a feeling of unity. All the parts must fit together so that they belong to each other.

    The commentators apply the idea to every aspect of life. The human body – with all its parts and faculties – must work together harmoniously, or else one is going to be ill. A community must be “one” – diverse in background and ideas yet at the same time united in aspiration and loyalty. Ibn Ezra adds that there must also be a sense of oneness between the Jewish microcosm and the wider human macrocosm.

    Living in two worlds is never going to be easy, but we will know the effort is a success when we marry them and remain true to both.

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