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The end of Exodus


The interesection of the Jewish calendar (lunar-based months of 29-30 days, years of 12 or 13 months) with a Torah split into 54 parts is that some years some portions are paired up – this coming Shabbat being one of those times. This week we read the last 2 portions of Exodus, the book moving in a few short weeks from slavery through the revelation at Sinai to the construction of God’s house and ritual headquarters.

We’ve previewed most of this material in the 2 weeks preceding the drama of the golden calf, multitudes of “thou shalts,” no stone left unturned in instructing the Israelites how they were to create the Tabernacle and its accoutrements.  This week the future arrives, and we now read everything the Israelites did under the apt direction of master artisans and architects Bezalel and Oholiav.

(Okay, here’s a plug for my other blog, Chop Wood, Carry Water, in which last week – and I swear this is a coincidence – I wrote about the role of general contractors & their relationship to the master builders of old.)

Here’s a preview of this week’s poems:

  • I have this fabulous poster in my office, a 4′ X 6′ blow-up of Charles Ebbet’s Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper (which you can see here). The shock of seeing a group of workmen sitting on a girder mid-air gets me every time: a good backdrop for a writer. It’s hard to be blithe in the face of such quasi-insanity. My poem Impermanence struggles with our desire to make our mark upon the world, such desire its own kind of commentary on Let all among you who are skilled come and make all that God has commanded.
  • The poem for this week’s second Torah portion was drafted after a visit to Tuzigoot National Monument in New Mexico. I was moved by the angular reddish pueblos left behind by the Sinagua, and felt their presence throughout the site — as well as their clear absence, with only artifacts and bones left behind. If We Stay Here Long Enough is my wondering out loud about the artifacts of the Tabernacle – thread and gold and wood – and if they could serve as a kind of mnemonic, helping the Israelites remember what they were doing in the desert in the first place. The poem was first published in the on-line journal you are here.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/08/2010 11:13 am

    Well, Sue, Thank you so much for this. It made me less lonely too. EL

  2. judith rose permalink
    03/08/2010 1:17 pm

    every spring this happens. The Torah speaks of building the mishkan and I plan my gardening endeavors for the year. The garden truly becomes my mishkan for the next 6 months as I shift to outdoor prayer.

    • sue swartz permalink*
      03/08/2010 3:04 pm

      Garden as mishkan. Great imagery… garden of Eden, perhaps? I’m not a gardener, but there is something holy (in the sense of precious) about digging in the dirt, even planting a few impatiens in the Spring.

      • Sarah Rubin permalink
        03/11/2010 6:43 am

        Garden … Pardes / Orchard … olive trees, grave vines, pomegranates, beans and peas…

        Gardens, my mother’s garden, are things of sustenance as much as (or perhaps more than) beauty, though sustenance can be beautiful and beauty can be its own sustenance.

        I really love your musings!

  3. 03/08/2010 1:36 pm

    (keeping in mind that even God moves on,
    wanders off while we scramble to keep up,
    watching the muted sky for a column of fire)


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