The haftarah for parashat T'rumah is from I Kings. It tells of the building of Solomon's Temple. As in the parasha, in which the dimensions and materials for the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) are given in rather exacting detail, here, too, we are given specific dimensions and interesting detail.
There are some significant differences in the two stories. In T'rumah we are hearing G"d's blueprint for the Mishkan. In our haftarah, there seem to have been no specific Divine blueprints. Perhaps significant of the difference between building a portable sanctuary from fabric and wood and skins and the effort to build a Temple of hewn stone, Solomon's edifice is actually somewhat smaller than the Mishkan.
And quite an effort it was. According to our haftarah Solomon impressed 30,000 of his subjects into forced labor, 10,000 at a time in one month shifts In addition, 70,000 porters, 80,000 quarriers, and 3,300 officials to supervise it all. All the wood and stone were shaped and prepared in advance, before being brought the considerable distance to Jerusalem.
In the midst of this account of a massive construction project, we read these fascinating words:
"When the House was built, only finished stones cut at the quarry were used, so that no hammer or ax or any iron tool was heard in the House while it was being built." (I Kings 6:7 - JPS)
Imagine erecting this impressive edifice without accompanying loud sounds. And then ask why. Did Solomon fear that G"d would be disturbed by the noise? Was it a sign of respect for the sacredness of the task, or of the place? Is it the use of metallic tools that is problematic?
And for us in our own time, when we seek to create our own metaphoric Temples, what lesson can we take from Solomon's wisdom? What would it mean for us to have the stones and planks for our "Temples" hewn and shaped elsewhere and then brought on site to be assembled? How do assure that the process of erecting our "Temples" is quiet, or accomplished without the assistance of hammers, axes and other metal tools.
First, we must know from what "materials" we are going to assemble our "Temples." We must go to the places where these "materials" are found, obtain them, shape them, and then transport them to the sites of our "Temples." Then we must be able to assemble them on-site without hammer, ax or other iron tools. (Obviously, some tools would be needed-lifts and pulleys, shovels, etc.) So now we must determine why the use of iron tools was avoided, and find the metaphoric equivalent for our projects.
I have been musing on my answers to these questions, and found a number of solutions that work for me. However, I won't prejudice your search by contaminating it with my own any more than I have already done.
Go and figure out how to build your "Temple." Just remember that when you build it, use only finished stones cut at the quarry, so that no hammer or ax or any iron tool is heard in your "House" while it is being built.
©2006 by Adrian A. Durlester
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