Torah Study Notes 2-22-14

February 22, 2014
p. 612
35:1 A chiastic structure. See:
We are given the story by starting with the most recent piece of the last story and then working backwards. A common feature of most story telling. Moses has just been told by God to keep the Sabbath holy and that is the first thing that he tells the people. The meta story is the transition from the authority of Pharaoh to the authority of God. The fixing of the Sabbath was unique to Israel at the time. From the Christian and Muslim perspective this was a test which the Jews failed. Note that the Sabbath was not introduced into Christianity as a day of rest until the Protestant Reformation in the 17th C.
The Muslims have no Sabbath – they go to the mosque on Friday but are not prohibited from working on that day. Note also that the penalty of “death” is one of the spirit more than the death of the body. The language is hyperbolic. But why is observance of the Sabbath given such a high priority? There are certain commandments that are spoken of in life or death language. DC: Setting aside some time each week to contemplate, to consider deep questions, is necessary for survival and progress. RL: There is a link to the creation story of God resting on the 7th day. PG: His conduct is a model for human behavior. This is a primer for moving people from faithlessness to faith. Although there is no instruction to attend Temple – one was expected to pray three times a day. The synagogue didn’t really come into existence in anything like its modern form until the 8th or 9th C. Islam comes into existence at a time when Judaism and Christianity were in existence and accordingly many of the tenets and practices of those faiths were adopted. Instead of praying three times a day the founders of Islam elected to pray five times a day. The idea must have been that this repetition and practice would make the congregant even more attentive to his/her faith.
35:4 Gifts for the Eternal. All very upscale or necessary for the operation of the Temple and the adornment of the priests…. From every person who’s heart is so moved. Moses is “saying” to Israel rather than “commanding.” This is not a tax as was the half shekel previously imposed.
35:10 Details re the content of the tabernacle. DC: Why are we wasting time with poles and screens? There is so much more morality that needs to be taught. CL: This is all about material culture. The blue, purple and crimson appears in Jewish and Israeli art even today. In addition to a moral code it is important for a people to have material culture as a connective context for their faith. PG: Kant said that there were certain truths that were deontological – a morality that is free of context. That means that morality is the same for everyone. The alternative is to argue that morality needs a foundational supporting structure. It is sometimes very difficult to live with middle class morality unless you have a middle class income. Jewish thought is never either/or but is both/and. Unless we have a moral society we cannot have a moral order. Here a context is created after we have had the moral law set forth. Note: The translation of “lev” is “heart.”
35:20 Offering are made by those who hearts have moved them. LinL: Where did they get all these riches? Was it the wealth they took from Egypt? PG: This was written much later than the escape from Egypt. It is suggested that this was written during the time of Solomon. The Tent of Meeting has been moved inside of Solomon’s Temple. Richard Friedman has written about this. See: LL: By this time it sounds like they were an affluent mercantile society living at the crossroads of trade in the Mediterranean.
35:30 Bezalel and the other craftsperson’s. Skills could be taught from parent to child in a family but obviously some have God-given talents. It is important to note that God is not “in control” of the seventh day. I8th C. deism has an antecedent here. God’s over-arching plan is built into the original design. Do we have free will when we are prisoners to the laws of the universe? Efforts to find a unified theory that pulls quantum mechanics and relativity into a single system is an effort to eliminate randomness. See the argument between Bill Nye and the Creationists on YouTube.

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