Friday, January 31, 2014

Shabbat Thought:: Parasha Terumah

Each week in the Synagogue, a different portion of scripture is studied.  The Torah (Old Testament) is broken into portions which are read over the course of a year.  At the end of the year, it starts over again so the Bible is read annually. 

Parasha Terumah Exodus 25:1 - 27:19

8 And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. 9 Exactly as I show you — the pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings — so shall you make it.

I can't help but think about my Rueben when I skim through this passage. It's very detailed and certain.  "Exactly as I show you, so shall you make it."  Rueben likes directions.  He started to read when he was two. The first words were on and off.  These words were power...literally.  On the lights went.  Off they went.  He quickly moved to start and stop on the food processor.  Language gave Rueben direction and explanation of how the world works.  Before becoming the parent of a child that thinks as such, I skimmed through this type of Scripture.  But now, I read these portions of scripture a little differently than I would for myself.
"They shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high."  
When I've read this before, I'd think, "okay, God is giving directions.  Cool."  But now, as I read this, I imagine my Rueben as the foreman.  "Okay people, let's gather our materials.  We need enough acacia wood for this ark! I've got the measurements right here!  Orders of the Lord!"  Just as I noted in the previous parashas (here and here), God notices our needs, and He cares about us.  He could have said, "Make an ark."  I wonder what would have happened then.  Would there have been Israelites immobilized by fear?  "Um.  I'm not going to even start because I don't want to mess this thing up.  It's GOD after all!  If I do it wrong, I'm going to be incinerated."  Instead, God has the presence of mind to give His people directions.  

Sometimes I've thought that the Torah has too many rules.  But when I really think about it, I'm really thankful that God cared enough to give direction and rules to a people who were ready to return to Egypt for the garlic and onions.  God's rules give us discipline and direction.  For the month of January, I've been teaching myself about discipline.  A little bit of focused work in the right direction goes a long way.  This applies to music, cleaning, exercise, writing, and so many other things.  I told myself that if I take at least 5 minutes a day in 5 different areas, I'd see improvement.  Fifteen minutes in each area seemed too much, but I can do 5.  Guess what?  It's working.  My music is improving.  I'm getting stronger with my 20 second plank.  My journal is half-full!  I'm not perfect, but I have a really good track record for January.  I'm excited about progress, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

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