The Weekly Verse by Rabbi Rotenberg
Parshat Terumah: Plank Check
February 16, 2024
וְאַרְבָּעִ֥ים אַדְנֵיהֶ֖ם כָּ֑סֶף שְׁנֵ֣י אֲדָנִ֗ים תַּ֚חַת הַקֶּ֣רֶשׁ הָֽאֶחָ֔ד וּשְׁנֵ֣י אֲדָנִ֔ים תַּ֖חַת הַקֶּ֥רֶשׁ הָאֶחָֽד׃
With their forty silver sockets, two sockets under the one plank and two sockets under each following plank.
Imagine a plank of wood. Now put it longways, add two tenons to its base, and place it on the ground. If you’re imagining the same plank of wood I am, it has already fallen over. No object could be stand for long on two supports alone. A table for instance, a chair, anything you are trying to prop up needs at least three.
How then did the planks that made up the wall of the tabernacle stay upright with only two tenons per base? Simply put, each plank was attached to the one next to it, and so on until the four walled enclosure of the tabernacle was completed. Once they were connected, it didn’t matter that each plank had only two tenons. Even a strong wind couldn’t knock it down because they were connected to each other.
When I think about the power of community, this image comes to mind. To be in community means to commit oneself to being part of building something bigger. For a plank of wood, it’s physical. A solitary plank gets knocked over far more easily than a one part of a larger structure. For us, we support each other when we celebrate shared values and holidays, find happiness in each others’ joys, cry for each others’ sorrows, hope and pray for the same dreams. Life has a way of knocking us down. Wind will blow, and a plank laid upright will fall. But together, we don’t fall as easily.