This double portion completes the Book of Exodus. We see here the completion of the Tabernacle. The finished product is blessed by Moses in Exodus 40 and this act is paralleled in the Haftorah reading with the completion of the Temple in Jerusalem by Solomon and his subsequent blessing.(I Kings 8:14,15) This parallel of the Wilderness Tabernacle and the Solomonic Temple echoes another parallel scene. Vivian B. Skolnick, in her book “The Biblical Path to Psychological Maturity” draws an interesting link between Creation and the Tabernacle. She sees a psychological connection between these two events in that in Genesis there was a creation of order, boundaries of time and space (Genesis 1). Likewise, the creation of the Tabernacle, she notes, gives us an opportunity to repeat these steps. “The maturation process allows people to develop discreet boundaries, to manage time, to know how to work, to collaborate and to manage their infantile greed by being able to follow God’s command to be satisfied when enough is enough. This understanding underlies the connection between God’s design of creation in the opening chapter of Genesis, and this closing chapter of Exodus.” Skolnick sees in this linkage a growth from slave mentality to a more mature identity.
The Plaut Commentary of Torah seems to echo some of the symbolic growth. “The erection of the shrine was the symbolic conclusion of the Exodus tale. The latter had begun with the “absent” God during the years of enslavement and now ends with the “present” God who will lead His people to the Promised Land.” Of course, this tale of transition and growth does not end with this portion. And the Israelites, as we see in the subsequent books of Torah, often return to some of that “infantile” behavior. Creation and growth does not end with the close of Exodus. The Tabernacle represents growth, in a way, but certainly not an end; just another moment of transition in the ultimate journey. I mention this because we sometime complete a project, or . perhaps retire from full time work, and stop to think that it is now time to cease living. What Torah is telling us is being echoed by a growing number of studies; to stop evolving as a human being is to die. The growth in “encore” careers and personal reinvention on the part of so many Boomers gives testimony to this fact that the last third of life can be a time of great creativity, energy and personal and spiritual growth. We are all in a process of becoming. To cease that is to stagnate. We all need rest (hence Shabbat) but after being refreshed, we are charged with the continuing task of creation.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.