Parshat Terumah – February 25, 2012

On Building a Mishkan – Some Assembly Required

This week’s Torah reading focuses on the construction of the Mishkan (tabernacle), with Moshe getting detailed instructions on Har Sinai. Fifteen materials, including gold, silver, and copper, are solicited from the Israelites toward its construction. According to Midrash HaGadol, each of the donated materials correspond to a particular aspect of a human being. Gold represents the soul, silver is the physical self, copper is voice, blue veins, etc.

Tremendous detail is given to the construction and materials used in the Mishkan. This is also true when it comes to Korbanot (sacrifices) which we read and study with similar fine detail. Studying Parshas that are more esoteric to the modern mind recalls a talk given by Reb Shlomo Carlebach in connection to Purim. Since today is Rosh Chodesh Adar I thought I’d quote one of the most beautiful lines from this talk. Although he’s referring to female prophecy in the Torah, I always thought this line aptly described the love of learning Torah. 

When I get a business letter, the words are important, the letters aren’t. When I get a love letter, everything is important. I look at every letter a thousand times.

The first recipe is based on Pasuk 27:6, 7. This Pasuk explains the poles for the altar made out of a soft pliable wood – acacia. These poles are inserted into rings. Recipe Number One? Yummy onion rings.  

26:6,7 And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and you shall overlay them with copper. And its poles shall be inserted into the rings, and the poles shall be on both sides of the altar when it is carried.

Onion Rings

(adapted from Food.com)

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large onions, sliced with rings separated
  • 1/3 cup flour (for dredging the onions)
  • oil for frying

Directions:

  • Mix egg, oil, and soy milk in a mixer.
  • Add dry ingredients  until all the lumps are gone and consistency is creamy.
  • Dredge the onions in flour.
  • Cover with batter.
  • When oil is hot (not before!) drop in the onion rings. Cook until lightly browned on both sides.

Recipe #2:

The Mishkan was a complex and elaborate structure. According to the Lubavitcher rebbe:

It included hundreds of foundation sockets, wall sections, pillars, tapestries and furnishings; a work crew of several thousand Levites assembled the Sanctuary at each camp and dismantled and transported it when the Divine command would come to move on. Yet the “Tent of Meeting” was erected at every encampment–even if only for a single day!

The image of thousands of Levi’im assembling the Mishkan is an incredibly powerful one. Thousands of men hammering, building, sawing, measuring, and constructing this complex edifice. And imagine…all of these guys were Jewish. We’re talking tradesmen. But maybe that’s the power of the Holy Land – it brings out our inner contractor.

In any case, I do imagine beauty in the co-ordination and application of skills to the highest service of the Mishkan.

And as I contemplate this, another strange thought crosses my mind. Have you ever tried assembling furniture from a box? Does the word “Billy” strike fear in your heart? Or something that sounds like medbådetvätthörna?

I’m thinking of a certain furniture store:

It gives one an appreciation for the unbelievable co-ordination and skill involved with the Mishkan. And on that note, inspired by the concept of ‘some assembly required’ I bring you this week’s second and very Swedish recipe.

Kanelbullar

In English known as Eau d’Ikea – the scent of cinnamon buns when you enter our favourite Swedish furniture store.

DISCLAIMER: For these cinnamon buns to be honest Kanelbullar, the dough should really include cardamon. I personally left it out because I don’t have the most adventurous taste-buds and frankly, I prefer my Kanelbullar to taste more like cinnamon buns and less like Havdallah.

The dough is simple: use part of your Challah dough recipe. To make a 12 x 16″ (approximately) rectangle of rolled-out dough, you’d be using the equivalent of 1 1/2 cups of flour. So if your Challah recipe calls for six cups of flour, you can cut off less than a third to roll out your rectangle.  You’d do this stage after the original Challah dough has risen to double in size.

  • 2-3 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, or a mixture of brown and white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • egg (for egg wash)
  • crushed sugar cubes and/or almond slivers
Melt margarine and spread all over the rolled-out dough, leaving 1/2 inch of the edge (length-wise and on one side only) un-egged.
  1. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the egg.
  2. Roll up jelly roll style and seal the long end.
  3. Cut into 18-20 pieces and place each one in a paper muffin holder.
  4. Cover and let rise until double in size. (Approximately 45 minutes.)
  5. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on crushed sugar cubes/almond sliver.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees for seven minutes or until golden brown.

NOTE: I like to place a loose foil ‘tent’ on top of any yeast dough when I bake it to prevent the top from hardening too much. You can try that for the first four or five minutes and then take off the foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Have a great Shabbos and B’Tayavon!

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