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Solid foundation

When embarking on all of life’s major projects, be it family, career or community, a solid foundation is the key to success.  

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is “Teruma” (Exodus 25:1–27:19) and it focuses on the construction of the Tabernacle, the portable synagogue that accompanied the Jewish people during their 40 years of wandering in the desert.

As with all synagogue building campaigns throughout history, the construction of the Tabernacle was also a campaign based on donations and fundraising. Some donations were voluntary, others obligatory. The three that were obligatory upon every Jew were: a donation fors the altar, a donation for the construction of the structure of Tabernacle and its vessels, and finally, a donation to help pay for the metal sockets in which the wood panels that formed the walls of the Tabernacle were held into place.

Now take a moment to revisit those obligatory donations and think about how many other sacred and well-known utensils the Tabernacle had. Notice that there was no obligatory donation for the Holy Ark, which housed the tablets of the Ten Commandments and the Torah that Moses himself wrote. No one was obligated to contribute towards the famous Menorah, which was said to be “the source of light for the world.” Incense? No. The Holy Table? No. The Holy of Holies? No.

While it makes sense to call for a donation for the construction of the structure of the Tabernacle and certainly for the altar, the question is asked: Why is the only other utensil of the Tabernacle for which the entire Jewish people was required to make a donation for a bunch of sockets that probably cost nearly nothing at Home Depot?

It is explained that the sockets bear incredibly powerful and meaningful symbolism, perhaps more so than any other utensil. The sockets represent the foundation of the Tabernacle. Without the sockets, the walls of the Tabernacle could not stand, and by extension, there simply could not be a tabernacle without them.

The lesson for us is that the foundations are the most important part of the building. Foundations must be done right. Everything rests on it. We must remember this when embarking on all of life’s major projects: parenthood, marriage, education, employment. We have to ensure a solid foundation in order to achieve the success of everything else onward.

For more insights on this week’s Torah portion by Rabbi Enkin, click on the links below: