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Parashat Terumah: The Tabernacle and Truck Day

This week marked the official, unofficial start of my favorite time of year - baseball season.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s February. How is baseball possibly starting now? And you also might be thinking, wow, our rabbi talks about baseball a lot.

I could have talked this week about a different Boston team’s victory, but as anyone who watched the game would agree, it was, to put it lightly, boring. But one day after the Super Bowl, this Monday, was a little-known and much loved holiday in Red Sox Nation - Truck Day.

Truck Day is the day that the truck carrying all of the spring training equipment leaves Boston for Fort Meyers, Florida. As many of our congregants do, the Red Sox and other baseball teams migrate south for these early, pre-season practices and games.

As the Boston Globe reported

“The 53-foot truck, hauling all the equipment the team will need for spring training, was loaded at 7 a.m. and departed Fenway Park around noon for the 1,480-mile trip to JetBlue Park.

This is Milford native Al Hartz’s 21st consecutive year driving the truck, which was led down Van Ness Street by a flatbed carrying the team mascots and Fenway Park ambassadors tossing team schedules and soft baseballs to fans.

The truck’s inventory includes 20,400 baseballs, 1,100 bats, 200 batting gloves, 200 batting helmets, 320 batting-practice tops, 160 white game jerseys, 300 pairs of pants, 400 T-shirts, 400 pairs of socks, 20 cases of bubble gum, and 60 cases of sunflower seeds.”

That is a lot of gum and socks. And that is VERY specific, detailed information about what supplies are needed to kick off a new baseball season, the physical things needed to construct a baseball team.

This week’s Torah portion reads a lot like an inventory for a biblical baseball team. This week, we read parashat Terumah, which details quite specifically how the Israelites are to construct the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, the mobile, traveling sanctuary that follows them throughout the wilderness. As we read:

(1) The Eternal spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is so moved. (3) And these are the gifts that you shall accept from them: gold, silver, and copper; (4) blue, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, goats’ hair; (5) tanned ram skins, dolphin skins [more on that in Torah plus tomorrow], and acacia wood; (6) oil for lighting, spices for the anointing oil and for the aromatic incense; (7) lapis lazuli and other stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. (8) And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. (9) Exactly as I show you—the pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings—so shall you make it. (Exodus 25:1-9)

And it gets even more specific as the parasha goes on - five planks here, four holes there, three cubits, that mysterious unit of measurement that we’ve lost over time. Facts, figures, numbers, and particulars will construct this sacred, holy place for God to dwell among the people. Facts, figures, and something else, too.

Why do I love Truck Day so much? Because even though my Red Sox were the World Champions in October, today, in February, it’s a new season. It’s a clean slate. Anything can happen, and everyone has a part to play. Similarly, as we read in the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, everyone has a part to play in constructing the Mishkan. Not just Moses, or Bezalel, the master artisan who does much of the designing. And it wouldn’t be the Mishkan if we ONLY had the five planks and the four holes and the three cubits. We need the gifts of each member of the community, too.

Every person, whose heart is so moved, brings a gift to help build this beautiful sanctuary. Remember Al Hartz, who’s driving the Red Sox Spring Training Truck? From Al, to the starting pitchers, to the rookies, to the coaches and the fans, it’s not only the all-stars who have a gift to contribute. As the Jewish people, we’re all on one big team, and we each have a role to play, too. We can each do our part to welcome God into our lives, int our Temple, and into this sanctuary. Shabbat shalom.

Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch
Temple Anshe Amunim | Pittsfield, MA

Tue, April 16 2024 8 Nisan 5784