Bar-Ilan University Parashat Terumah 5771/ February 5, 2011 Parashat Hashavua Stu y !


Lectures on the weekly Torah reading by the faculty of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel ! "ro#ect of the $aculty of %ewish &tudies, 'aul and (elene &hulman Basic %ewish &tudies )enter, and the *ffice of the )am"us Rabbi 'ublished on the Internet under the s"onsorshi" of BarIlan University+s International )enter for %ewish Identity 're"ared for Internet 'ublication by the )om"uter )enter &taff at Bar-Ilan University In,uiries and comments to- .r Isaac Gottlieb, .e"artment of Bible, gottlii/mail biu ac il


.r !vraham-*fir &hemesh 0akir "#$u shall ma%e a s&reen '$r the entran&e $' the Tent" The Si(ni'i&an&e $' the S&reen a&&$r in( t$ )$se*hus The descri"tion of the Tabernacle mentions a curtain 1parokhet2 and a screen 1masakh2 Both were stri"s of woven cloth that served to se"arate various functional areas, and were similar in color and method of "re"arationtwisting various threads Regarding the curtain, used to se"arate the sacred "recinct from the (oly of (olies 3 regions with different degrees of sanctity 3 &cri"ture says- 40ou shall make a curtain of blue, "ur"le, and crimson yarns, and fine twisted linen4 156 78-9:2 Likewise, for the screen that was "laced over the entrance to the Tent of ;eeting and se"arated the general, nonsacred area from the sacred "recinct, it says40ou shall make a screen for the entrance of the Tent, of blue, "ur"le and crimson yarns,

and fine twisted linen, done in embroidery4 156 :8-982 If we consider the colors and dyes used in making the Tabernacle and its im"lements we notice several things:2 Generally s"eaking, the Tabernacle was ,uite colorful 72The colors used in the Tabernacles came from the natural color of materials such as gold 1yellow2, silver 1grey2, co""er 1reddish2, and goat-skins 1black2,: alongside obvious coloring agents 1dyes2 3 blue, "ur"le, and crimson 3 which were considered e6tremely "recious in ancient times 7 92The builders of the Tabernacle had at their dis"osal a total of only three colors of dye (owever they overcame this limitation

56odus 7<-9-<


56odus 7<-= !ll three dyes, or several of them, are mentioned in various verses dealing with the Tabernacle in other conte6ts as well $or e6am"le, cf %er :>-?@ 5sther :-8, A-:< Blue 1tekhelet2 refers to a tur,uoise color obtained from the sea mollusk Murex trunculus Tyrian "ur"le 1argaman2 is a red dye, also derived from the hy"obranchial gland of three sea mollusks )rimson 1tola`at shani2 is identified as Dactylopius coccus, a scale insect found on tamarisk trees, es"ecially Quercus coccifera $or further reading on these dyes, cf ; Borstein, Ha-Tekhelet, %erusalem :?AA, "" :=B-7>=, 7:<-7=:@ C Darmon, 4 Ta`asiyat haArgaman ba-Et ha-Atikah,4 in ( &horek and ! !yalon 1eds 2, Tze a min ha-Te a, Land of Israel ;useum, Tel !viv :??9, "" A>-AB@ E !mar, !e-"k ot Tola`at ha-#hani he-Eretz$israelit, %erusalem 7>>B, "" <<-B:


creatively, achieving variations and combinations by twisting together several colors 14twisted work42 9 Interestingly, &cri"ture+s descri"tion of the Tabernacle, a structure for religious ritual, is highly technical- lists of materials alongside building instructions &cri"ture makes no mention of any theological significance associated with the architectural character of the Tabernacle, aside from its division into regions of varying degrees of sanctity This gives the im"ression that the Torah was interested in stressing the grandeur of the Tabernacle, as befits the religious showcase of the Israelite "eo"le 'erha"s the ob#ective of focusing on the materials and "rocess of making the Tabernacle was to show the generosity of the Israelites, who were willing to donate a variety of "recious materials and dyes


In his commentary on 56 7A-8, Rashi dwells at length on the "lay of color and way of creating varied shades of thread out of a mere five materials- 4The five materials were intertwined in every strand- they beat out the gold into the form of thin "lates and from them they cut threads, and they wove that gold thread together with si6 threads of blue "ur"le and a gold thread with si6 threads of red "ur"le, and similarly with the crimson and similarly with the fine linen@ because all the materials had their threads si6fold and there was a gold thread with each of them Then they intertwined them all into one thread@ it followed, therefore, that their thread was 7A-fold 4


$rom ancient to recent times attem"ts have been made at finding s"iritual significance in the material as"ects of the Tabernacle, i e , in the materials themselves, their origins and ,ualities, and in the design of the im"lements and their "lacement = Below I shall focus on the symbolism of the screen as "resented by %ose"hus, the famous historian from the &econd Tem"le "eriod !lthough %ose"hus s"eaks of the screen of the Heikhal 1the inner sanctum2 of the &econd Tem"le, which hung before the golden doors, according to him it was set u" in a similar fashion to the screen of the Tabernacle 1see the verses ,uoted above2 (e writesF but before these doors there was a veil of e,ual largeness with the doors It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and "ur"le, and of a conte6ture that was truly wonderful Cor was this mi6ture of colors without its mystical inter"retation, but was a kind of image of the universe@ for by the scarlet

$or e6am"le, %enesis &abbah 1Gilna ed , )ha"ter ?= =2, which discusses the origin of acacia trees and the fact that they were brought from the Land of Israel $or further reading, see 0 $eli6, Te a e-Eretz ba-Tanakh' (erakim be-Ecologia Mikrait, %erusalem :??7, "" <9<A


there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine fla6 the earth, by the blue the air, and by the "ur"le the sea@ two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance@ but the fine fla6 and the "ur"le have their own origin for that foundation, the earth "roducing the one, and the sea the other This curtain had also embroidered u"on it all that was mystical in the heavens, e6ce"ting that of the HtwelveI signs, re"resenting living creatures < %ose"hus stresses, 4Cor was this mi6ture of colors without its mystical inter"retation,4 showing that he a""arently felt a need to e6"lain the theological significance behind the design of the Tabernacle and its im"lements (e claims that the sources of the materials and colors used in the screen hint at cosmologic symbolism, that is, all 4four elements4 1fire, air, earth, and water2 of which, according to the ancient Greeks, the universe is com"rised &carlet Hcrimson in the Cew %'& translationI, a bright red, symboliJes fire@ fine

%ose"hus, )ars of the *e+s, Book G, )ha"ter < =, translated by Killiam Khiston htt"-LLwww ccel orgL#L#ose"husLworksLwar-< htm


linen, which is an earth-tone brown, symboliJes the earth@ "ur"le, whose dye comes from the sea, symboliJes water@ and blue, the color of the sky, symboliJes air 8 !longside this %ose"hus notes a fact not mentioned in &cri"ture but which em"hasiJes the cosmic significance of the screen, namely that there was embroidered on it 4all that was mystical in the heavens,4 a""arently referring to the heavenly bodies, which is sur"rising in that it raises associations which might be inter"reted as "agan %ose"hus+ view of the screen is mentioned in later sources on the entire Tabernacle as re"resenting a 4mini-cosmos 4 'erha"s this was a commonly acce"ted notion in other ancient sources and from there worked its way into later writings B The "lacement of the screen can add further de"th to this cosmologic symbolism !s mentioned, this

&ee #otah :Ba for similar imagery by the &ages regarding the blue thread in the tzitzit 1fringes of the tallit2- 4Because blue resembles Hthe color ofI the sea, and the sea resembles Hthe color ofI heaven, and heaven resembles Hthe color ofI the Throne of Glory 4 *n the symbolism and "sychological significance of colors 1white 3 good, black 3 evil, red 3 blood and vitality, etc 2 in various cultures see !lison Dol, Tze aim, Tel !viv :??<

&ee, for e6am"le, Mi,rash Tanhuma 1Karsaw ed 2, (arashat (eku,ei, "ar 9- 4To teach that the Tabernacle counterbalances the entire cosmos and ;an, who is a microcosm 4 !lso cf Rabbenu 5leaJar of Korms 1Germany ::8>-:79>2, (erush #i,,ur ha-Tefilah la-&okeah, ; (irschler ed , %erusalem :??=, vol 7, " <, about the blessing 4 asher yatzar4 recited over ritual laving of the hands- 4who in (is wisdom created ;an, who is a microcosm, for all that which e6ists in the world and in the Tabernacle and in the year e6ists in ;an 4


item was "laced at the entrance to the Tent of ;eeting and served as the connecting "oint between two s"aces 3 the 4sterile4 sacred "recinct and the s"ace outside, the entire world The screen, com"rised of all the elements of the universe, teaches us that one can draw a connection between o""osites@ that the material and the s"iritual can combine with each other


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