A first glance at this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Terumah, may read as a laundry list of equipment and instructions for building the mishkan, the desert tabernacle the Children of Israel carried with them in their years wandering in the desert until they reached the Land of Israel. It says things like “Make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold, and then insert the poles into the rings on the side walls of the ark, for carrying the ark.” (Ex 25:13-14). As someone who doesn’t live in the time of the mishkan, it frankly can be hard to find immediate relevance to our lives today.
And yet, throughout the generations, Torah commentators have found ways to make this parsha meaningful, each in their own way. Some try to understand the literal meaning of the text, trying to paint a picture of what it was actually like to build the mishkan.
The Chasidic tradition takes it in a more spiritual direction. The Meor Eynaim, one of the earliest Chasidic Masters living in 18th Century Ukraine, focused on one, seemingly insignificant word. The word is אֲדָנִים, adanim, meaning sockets, as in “forty silver sockets, two sockets under the one plank and two sockets under each following plank” (Ex, 26:21). The Meor Eynaim teaches that actually, one of the reasons “Adonai” is one of our most beloved names for God is because Adonai is connected to the word adanim. What a radical statement, that one of our holiest names for God can be connected to one of the most mundane objects imaginable!
For the Meor Eynaim, that is exactly the point. The Divine Presence can be found anywhere, even in the places you’d least expect. Even sockets can be holy and special. Just knowing that can bring us closer to ourselves, closer to gratitude, closer to God (or Divinity, Presence, Life).
I am excited to be joining Ramah Galim this Summer for all the magical moments of camp I’ve heard so much about, from the dolphins and otters and whales that visit Tefillot Afloat to Havdallah on the beach. I’m also excited for the less glamorous moments, the socket moments. From waiting in line to get your surfboard to walking down with your edah to the beach, in some ways, this is how the real magic happens. These are the moments we build friendships and build community. These are the moments we get to just notice and feel grateful for the sand in our toes and the breeze on our skin. I can’t wait to experience those socket moments with the Ramah Galim kehillah (comunity) this Summer.
Carrie Watkins will be the Director of our Ocean Exploration this summer. She is currently living in Jerusalem and studying to become a rabbi through Hebrew College. She worked previously as Rosh Climbing at Ramah in the Rockies and has a Masters in City Planning from MIT.