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Daniel and Karl are joined by members of Saint Andrew’s, Evanston as they discuss Ch. 26, a chapter mostly composed of instructions for building the tabernacle.  And yet somehow they manage to wander into discussions of unicorn creation myths and when to take a bathroom break in the middle of synagogue services.  Who says that cubits can’t be fun!

You can listen to the podcast by using the player below, or by subscribing through iTunes or any other fine podcast distributor.  The midrash that Daniel curated for us is below the player.

Exodus 26

1– (Midrash HaGadol) Make the Mishkan [covering] ten tapestries. . . . Make sheets of goat hair as a tent covering over the Mishkan; make them eleven sheets . . . and you shall enfold the sixth sheet (26:1–9)

The ten multicolored tapestries, in two groups of five each, represent the Ten Commandments (engraved on two tablets). The eleven sheets of goat hair, sewn together in groups of five and six, represent the Five Books of Moses and the six orders of the Mishnah. . . . The “folded sheet” represents the Talmud, which enfolds and defines the Torah. . . . The fifty clasps represent the fifty days from the Exodus to the giving of the Torah.



that they should serve it as a roof and at the same thime as wall-coverings for the outside of the beards; — for the curtains hung behind them so as to cover them.


1–  Yoma 71b; Baraita DeMelekhet HaMishkan ch. 2).OF FINE TWINED LINEN AND BLUE PURPLE, AND RED PURPLE, AND CRIMSON —

Thus there were four different materials in every thread, one of linen and three of wool, each of the strands of which a thread was composed being sixfold (the word is taken here in the double sense of שש “linen” and of שש “six”). Consequently the four materials intertwined into one thread gave a twenty-four-fold thread


6 — (Beraita Melechet HaMishkan) You shall join the tapestries with the clasps, that the Mishkan may be one (26:6)

As seen from the inside of the Sanctuary, the golden clasps embedded in the tapestries were like stars glittering in the heavens.



half of its breadth (two cubits) hung down, being doubled, over the screen which was on the east side before the entrance, whereby the Tabernacle gained the appearance of a modest bride who has her face covered by a veil.



to cover the two cubits of the boards that were left bare.


12 — (Talmud, Shabbat 98b) The remainder that is left of the sheets of the tent, the half-curtain that remains, shall trail behind the back of the Tabernacle (26:12)

The Mishkan thus resembled a lady strolling through the market with the hems of her dress trailing behind her.



  1. e. the west side. This is called “the back” because the entrance was on the east side which was therefore its front. The north and the south are accordingly called the “sides” in the right and the left directions.


13 — (Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 422). SHALL HANG OVER THE SIDES OF THE TABERNACLE —

on the north and on the south as I have explained above. The Torah here teaches you a rule of life — that a man should take care of his artistic objects (this the Torah does by commanding that the beautiful lower curtains should be protected by coarse upper ones)


14 — (Jerusalem Talmud) You shall make a covering . . . of tachash skins above (26:14)

The tachash was a multicolored animal, which was created specifically for the Tabernacle and existed only at that time.

Rabbi Hoshaya taught that it was a one-horned animal.


15 — (Rashi)You shall make boards for the Tabernacle of shittimwood (26:15)

How did the children of Israel obtain wood in the desert? Rabbi Tanchuma explained: Our father Jacob foresaw with his holy spirit that Israel was destined to build a Sanctuary in the desert, so he brought cedars to Egypt and planted them [there], and instructed his children to take them along when they left Egypt.


15 — (Chasidic) You shall make boards for the Tabernacle of shittimwood (26:15)

According to the Talmud, the shittah was a type of cedar; in Rabbi Saadiah Gaon’s (Arabic) translation of the Torah it is rendered shant, or “acacia.”

Chassidic teaching sees the word shittim as related to the word shetut, “folly”—an allusion to the fact that the function of the Mishkan was to transform the folly of materialism into “folly of holiness,” commitment to G‑d that transcends the rationale and normalcy of “the way things are.”


15 — (Midrash Rabbah) You shall make boards for the Tabernacle of shittimwood (26:15)

Why of shittim wood? G‑d set an example for all time, that when a man is about to build his house from a fruit-producing tree, he should be reminded: If, when the supreme King of kings commanded the Sanctuary to be erected, He instructed to use only trees that are not fruit-bearing, though all things belong to Him, how much more should this be so in your case?


31 — רכת(Berakhot 18b).  is a term denoting a partition; in the language of the Sages (in Rabbinical Hebrew) פרגוד is something which separates the king from the people


35 — (Talmud, Bava Batra 25b) You shall place . . . the menorah opposite the table on the south side of the Tabernacle; and you shall place the table on the north side (26:35)

Said Rabbi Yitzchak: One who desires to become wise should turn to the south [when praying], and one who desires to become rich should turn to the north. Your sign for this is: the table was to the north and the menorah to the south.

Said Rabbi Joshua ben Levi: One should always turn to the south, because through obtaining wisdom one will obtain wealth.