Torah Tidbits

Bells and Pomegranates
Shabbat Parashat Pekudeyfeatured-rabbi
Shabbat Shekalim
Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh
March 1, 2014 – 29 Adar 1 5774

Bells and Pomegranates

Proper attention to detail helps us to discern the bigger picture and to appreciate it more fully.  This is as true in art, as it is in literature; in science, as it is in music.  This also explains why we often hear it said that “God is in the details.”

Our weekly Torah portion, Pekudey, concludes our reading of the Book of Exodus with a detailed account of the completion of the construction of the Sanctuary in the desert.  It seems as if no detail is spared.  Even the design of the garments of the High Priest are described in great detail.  Bells and pomegranates were attached to the hem of the robe of the priestly vestments of the High Priest.

In his book, Etnachtah, Benny Lau draws a symbolic parallel between the bells and pomegranates on the High Priest’s garments and the children and the elders of the people of Israel.  The bells are noisy, as are children.  The pomegranates are “full” of learning and of mitzvoth, as are elders who may be more quiet in comparison to children, yet bring with them the fullness of lifelong learning and experience.

The bells and pomegranates on the hem of the High Priest’s robe were systematically intermingled on the garment.  Thus, the High Priest entered the holy Sanctuary with a tangible reminder that children and elders in community must be closely connected even as we enter into God’s holy presence.

The bells may be a bit noisy, but, alongside the more staid pomegranates, they also sparkle and represent joy and hope for the future. Neither element of our community, the children or the elders, is complete without the other…

This week is Shabbat Shekalim –  the first of the four special Shabbatot that precede Passover…!  On this Shabbat, we take out two Torah scrolls, reading the weekly Torah portion from the first Torah scroll, and the Maftir aliyah from the second scroll.  The Maftir is about the obligation of each Israelite to contribute a half shekel for the maintenance of portable Sanctuary in the desert.  Later, this same obligation became an annual obligation for the maintenance of the Temple in Jerusalem.

In addition to the relevance of the on-going obligation of each of us as individuals to support our communal holy endeavors, the half shekel reminds us that none of us is complete in and of ourselves.  As we come together in holy community this Shabbat, let us rejoice that Rodef Sholom Temple membership is enhanced by a wonderful combination of children and elders who, by their very presence and vision, bring great joy and blessing to all of our worthy endeavors.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

P.S.  This Shabbat we will also recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Adar II.  Rosh Chodesh Adar II will be on Saturday night, Sunday and Monday of this coming week.  May it be a month of blessing for all!