One of the most fascinating aspects of the 929 project is seeing how the daily chapter interacts with the regular Jewish calendar. Whether it is the weekly Torah portion, the daily prayers, or a special holiday reading – they all have connections to the stories that we read throughout this two and a half year cycle. Recently, I found one such connection particularly inspiring as it reminded me the majesty of stories.
Coming off of parashat Noach a few weeks ago during the regular weekly cycle, we now find ourselves discussing arks yet again in Exodus 25. Yes, there is a difference in the Hebrew between Noah’s Ark, Hebrew teivah and the ark of the covenant in Exodus, aron. But essentially they are both chests that house objects within them. Objects that are moved by others; and also in poetic fashion have in themselves the ability to animate others as well.
The beauty of the interplay between the 929 project and our regular Jewish calendar is that it helps us see connections that we might not have otherwise noticed. In parshat Noach the ark carries life-creating and life-sustaining goods: human and animal life that will soon re-populate and re-animate the world.
In Exodus 25:16 the ark carries the testimony. Rashi simplifies the matter for us when he defines ‘testimony’ as specifically referring to the Torah, the stone tablets, that the ark will soon be carrying. But it is also so much more.
The ark will literally be carrying the tablets, yes, but as the word ‘testimony’ implies – what the ark will really be carrying is a story for a better future.
Just as Noah’s ark carried the necessary tools to create a more vibrant world, so too does the ark of Exodus 25 carry such an animating tool – imaginative words.
To this very day humanity is sustained through these two forces: the nefesh (corporeal life made possible because of Noah) and the neshamah (spiritual life vivified by story and imagination).
Both are to be protected, guarded, and moved forward. Both are the treasure in the chest that is this world.
The reflection on this chapter is part of the broader 929 project where you read a chapter-a-day (weekends excluded – so only 5 chapters per week) of the Tanakh/Hebrew Bible.
We are working our way towards February 2, 2022.
Where do you hope to be in your spiritual journey by then?