Image: A rainbow of colored pencils. Photo by Padrinan/pixabay.

This week we have a double portion, Vayakhel plus Pekudei. It will carry us from the beginning of Exodus 35 to the end of the book.

Vayakhel covers the making of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle and its sacred vessels. Pekudei addresses the setting up of the Mishkan. These are Torah portions loaded with detail; simply reading them without help, our eyes may glaze over.

One way to enliven the process is to read with a pen and paper. As each detail is laid out, do your best to draw what you are reading. This is help you visualize the material. Resist the temptation to look up pictures: read and draw for yourself. Don’t worry about making great art.

Then, only then, compare your images with the drawings of others. Those might be drawings you find in a book or online, or they might be drawings by your study partner. Don’t be distressed when your images are different from those of others. You are not the first to discover that the descriptions in Torah are incomplete. It is human nature to “fill in the blanks” with interpretation. You are not wrong to do so, but it is good to realize when you are doing it.

Here are some divrei Torah to illuminate these portions:

O Lord, Won’t You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz? by Rabbi Kari Hofmeister Tuling, PhD

What Women Do & Why Women are Rewarded by Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild

The Journey of Control & Powerlessness by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman

Shared Purpose Unifies by Rabbi Nina J Mizrahi

Future Questions of Personhood by Rabbi Esther Hugenholtz

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