כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ אֵת תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֵת תַּבְנִית כָּל כֵּלָיו וְכֵן תַּעֲשׂוּ:
“And so shall they do,” is an unremarkable coda to God’s command to Moses that Israel must build a tabernacle in Exodus 25:9. Could this little phrase be a marker for our kind of Judaism, linked powerfully to the past but proudly innovative? That sounds like a stretch, but let’s try. The verse states that the people of Israel should make the tabernacle precisely according to the specifications shown to Moses on Mount Sinai. Various Midrashim depict God demonstrating the design of the ark, table and menorah through fiery holograms in the sky, which is fanciful but reflective of the Torah’s insistence that Moses reproduce the designs “shown” to him.
That coda, “and so shall they do,” could mean simply—tell the people to do what I taught you. But because of a claimed extra “vov” (“and”), the rabbis read this phrase to refer not to the initial construction, but to future generations of Temple builders. This raises the question—should future temples of the Jews be built to the precise measurements of the original tabernacle, which was designed for portability, or might they be altered to reflect the grander setting of a permanent location in Jerusalem?Continue reading