Myths and the Mishkan

Terumoh

Father grips the wheel. The weather is wet and the roads are slick. His son whimpers in the back seat, but ‎dad does not lose focus. Arrgh, tire debris. Their car skids and crashes into a tree. The impact instantly kills ‎the father but the child – ensconced in his five-point harness – survives with only broken bones. The air-‎ambulance lifts him to the hospital for immediate attention. It is not long before they wheel him into the ‎operating theater. The surgeon takes one glance at the boy, and chokes up. ‎

‎“I can’t operate, that’s my son.”‎

Impossible.‎

Or not? The surgeon was the boy’s mother. ‎

We are too quick to stereotype. This leads to all kinds of mistakes; erroneous, egregious and devious. ‎Inner reality becomes murky, even obscured, when myths become truths. ‎

Tznius is a prime example of the ideal being obscured. A plethora of misinformation has created an ‎atmosphere of uncertainty. Tznius has turned into a touchy and controversial topic. In many circles, mere ‎mention of the word is nauseating.‎

In today’s society, the foremost misconception is defining modesty by objective parameters. There is a ‎kernel of truth to this notion; there are details in the dress code which are cold judgments. But there are ‎really no hard and fast rules. A person’s gait and girth will affect the way they carry their clothes. Halacha ‎may provide a dress code, but this does not equate with Tznius. Modesty is an innate awareness, detached ‎from nitty-gritty facts. ‎

There are other mistaken beliefs which have gained legitimacy. People assume that dressing fashionably, ‎gracefully and trendily is incompatible with a Tznius image. ‎
The Tabernacle, as confirmed by the Kabbalists, was constructed to duplicate the human body. The holy-‎vessels correspond to various organs, and the walls provide the skeletal structure. The coverings, which ‎roofed the edifice and bedecked its sides, represent the clothing for the body. ‎

There were three coverings atop the Mishkan: ‎

  1. ‎ The bottom was a multicolored tapestry woven from wools and linen. ‎
  2. ‎ The middle layer consisted of panels constructed from goats’ hair. ‎
  3. ‎ Uppermost was leather, the animal skins supplied by rams and Techoshim. ‎

The largest and longest of the three was the middle covering. The extra material fell over the front ‎entrance and the balance trailed at the back of the tabernacle. Our Sages have descriptive imagery to ‎depict this additional drapery. ‎

Front Overhang:‎
Half of the panel hung over the eastern entrance like a modest bride who covers her face with a ‎veil (Rashi 26:9)‎

Back Drape
The School of Reb Yishmael taught: What did the Tabernacle resemble? A woman who goes in the ‎street and her skirts trail behind her (Shabbos 98b)‎

The Mishkan provides a fantastic refutation to the modern misconception. It combined, what current ‎society would view as opposing elements. In the spirit of a majestic woman she bedecked herself with a ‎trailing skirt. Simultaneously, she exhibited her modest character by veiling her face. The very same item – ‎the goat roofing – combined elegance and modesty. These two attributes, contrary to popular belief, are ‎not incompatible. It is possible to be both dignified and sophisticated. ‎

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