THIS WEEK'S TORAH READING:
: Exodus 35:1 - 38:20 -
. This is also
Rosh Chodesh Adar.
, begins with an admonition that we work six days, but to rest on the seventh day,
. The remainder of the
deals with the actual building of the
(sanctuary) and its utensils, which had been described in previous chapters. This juxtaposition of
led the rabbis to understand that the categories of work forbidden on
are derived from the kind of work it took to build the
As we finish the second book of the Torah,
(Exodus), we can pause for a moment to see what we have and have not yet seen in these first two books. To some extent, there might be a feeling that we don't need much more. After all we have heard the fascinating stories of our ancestors in the book of
(Genesis) and we have become a people, freed from slavery, with a now completed place of worship and religious leadership in place in the form of Moses and Aaron. To top it off, we have the most important religious principles in human history already in our hands, the Ten Commandments.
And yet...there are still three more books of the Torah left! Clearly, history, people-hood, basic religious principles and a place of worship are not nearly enough for our religious tradition. Coming up next in the book of
(Leviticus), after a long section on the ancient form of prayer known as sacrifice, is what scholars refer to as The Holiness Code. It will emphasize what it means to be holy, a concept we continue to think about and struggle with today. Indeed, we could claim that the goal of all of the parts of the Torah we have read thus far is to ready us for the ideas we will find in those next three books. In order to begin to become a holy people, we first had to hear about our founders, become a people, build a place to worship and figure out our basic religious ideas. Only then can we begin to travel down the road of holiness, as will be explained in the rest of the Torah. The end of
is not the beginning of the end of the Torah, it is the end of the beginning of our journey. There is still much we have left to do and to learn.