Sunday, January 26, 2014

Exodus 8: Growing Gold

Tetzaveh/Command (Exodus 27:20-30:10)

Make an altar to burn incense of acacia wood…. Cover it with a layer of pure gold. (Exodus 30:1, 3)
Make the carrying poles of acacia wood and cover them with gold. (Exodus 30:5)

Make an ark of acacia wood….  Cover it with a layer of pure gold on the inside and outside. (Exodus 25:10, 11)
Make two carrying poles of acacia wood and cover them with a layer of gold. (Exodus 25:13)


Our son Ron is a rabbi and biologist who lives with his family in the Negev desert mountains.
He teaches about interrelationships between Torah and science at the Yeshiva High School for Environmental Studies in Mitzpeh Ramon.

We drove with Ron and our son Ari and his wife Julie through the desert in search of acacia trees.
Hiking in the desert, we suddenly caught sight of a single acacia tree isolated in the valley as we came over the top of the hill.

We walked down the rocky hill photographing the tree as we got closer.  Miriam sat down to rest under the tree.
Ron explained that the tree is more than a thousand years old from tree ring studies of other trees in the Negev.

As we walked back, we asked why acacia wood was the primary material used to build the ark housing the Ten Commandments and the altar.
Why were such significant objects only coated with gold rather than being made of pure gold?

As a stable element that neither tarnishes nor rusts, gold symbolizes the eternal values of the written Torah.
The acacia tree symbolizes the living, growing, dynamic oral Torah that engages all generations in creative dialogue.

Carrying the ark and altar by their gold coated acacia poles brings fresh meaning to eternal values at all times and in every place. 
It [Torah] is a tree of life for those who grasp it …. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace. (Proverbs 3:18, 17)