They Don’t Sell Tabernacles at Ikea – A poem for Parsha Terumah (Aliyah 4)

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And you shall erect the Mishkan according to its proper manner, as you will have been shown on the mountain.

Exodus 26:30

I have two friends who, as recently as last week,
went to the blue mountain where they exchange
currency for pieces in boxes and a Torah of instructions
which tells you exactly what you should do
and how you should do it.

The end result, and I’ve seen the photos as
we’re the kind of friends who share everything
far more (and far more often) than anyone
could have predicted, is big boy beds
for their boys who used to be smaller, but
are not yet as big as they will be.

This is how it was in the desert – Everything temporary,
all the acacia wood we gathered would eventually
disappear into history with no provable evidence
it ever existed.

Everything is temporary.
Our children grow so fast
by the time we get home from Old Navy
they’ve already outgrown the shirts
they had grudgingly allowed us to purchase.
I don’t know why we bother to clothe them at all.

But these instructions from the Mountain –
No diagrams to assist us. No picture of
the final product on the box.
Not even a box.

In the end it’s up to us to know what’s right.
One person’s Tabernacle is another’s wardrobe
is another’s bookshelf, upon which all
our collected words will rest.

Did I tell you about the time I made my mother
a space station out of clay. My eyes
weren’t so wide when she used it as an ash tray.
But that’s a story for another day.

These poems are offered free for your enjoyment. If you use them as part of an event, meeting, educational or liturgical setting, please consider tipping the author.

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