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The Tabernacle as a Biblical Lesson in Artistic Creativity

March 7 2018

The final chapters of the book of Exodus are largely concerned with the construction of the tabernacle—the portable precursor to the First Temple—used by the Israelites in the wilderness. After examining how these passages were understood by Christian theologians in Reformation-era England, Ranana Dine examines what can be gleaned from uniquely rabbinic readings:

For the [talmudic] rabbis, the tabernacle reflects God’s own creation of the world and other aspects of divinity—the command to the Israelites to construct the building is [a way in which He allows] people [to serve] as partners in divine creation. . . .

[The 20th-century exegete] Nechama Leibowitz, drawing on [these] earlier commentators, has drawn parallels between the Bible’s description of the tabernacle’s construction and the first creation narrative in Genesis. In particular, many of the verbs, such as “saw,” “blessed,” and “completed” occur in both texts, giving the impression that the construction of the tabernacle requires the same actions as God’s creation of the world. . . .

[In light of such interpretations], it is possible to read these passages . . . as suggesting that artistic creation—designing, construction, crafting—can be part of divine work, part of godly creation, and perhaps even require a bit of the divine spirit. By weaving or chiseling we too can participate in a type of creation, although we lack the [explicit] divine command today to build a dwelling place for God. . . . [Thus, in] Jewish theology, the beauty of the tabernacle and the Temple is godly in its essence, containing the traces of the human-divine partnership in ongoing creation.

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Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Art, Exodus, Hebrew Bible, Religion & Holidays, Tabernacle

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.

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Read more at New York Post

More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations