In the last few weeks, the Torah portions have dealt with – in exhausting (and some would say boring) detail about how to build the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, where G-d would dwell among the nation. Obviously, at the time, it was important for G-d and Moses to give explicit instructions as to how the Tabernacle was to be built, what needed to be placed in it and what their purposes were; but why, one could ask, does it need to be in the Torah to be remembered for generations to come? Why was important for us in this day and age to know how many cubits each vessel had to be and exactly how many posts and how high and how long and more importantly how they would be joined? How the ark was to be built and out of which wood exactly. The Priest’s clothing: which materials would be used and how it would be decorated? Why do we need to know all this information?
One could say it is historically necessary, but we are taught that the Torah is not a history book, nor is it an architecture or building manual. It is a book to learn from. To learn life lessons and apply it to our everyday living and for that reason it is always relevant. When we read stories of our past it’s easier to see the reasons and find the life lessons hidden there, but what can we learn from all these exhausting details?
There is a saying, “G-d is in the details”. It is easy to come up with ideas and visions. It is easy to have a concept that appeals to everyone, but to take that concept and turn it into reality takes a lot of work and care. Time and effort. And details. If you build a car engine and leave out one of the parts – chances are, that engine is not going to work for very long, if at all. All of the parts are important. Leave one out and the whole thing falls apart.
In the Desert we were beginning to build a society, a nation. The concept had been discussed many times at earlier points in the Torah but without talking about what it involved -but in order to build a nation and a country there are a lot of details to deal with, big and small alike. The Torah comes to teach us the small details are just as important as the larger ones and if you work together and apply all the parts you will end up with a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. This analogy can be applied to the nation of Israel itself. We are made up of different parts, different people who all need to come together and create a whole that is greater than the parts. Every one of us is an important part of the whole. Nothing or no one can be left out.
At OTS Amiel BaKehila we are striving to create something new. In the last few weeks we have been hard at work sitting over the details, big and small (and there are a lot of them), to make this dream become a reality. We hope that, with G-d’s help, we will succeed in coming to your community, helping you and your community connect with its people, with its heritage and with Israel, and that together we can create something that is bigger than all of its parts.