Planning and planting ahead

By Rabbi Elana Zelony
Parashat Vayakhel

In this week’s parasha, it says, “They made the planks for the Tabernacle of acacia wood, upright” (Exodus 36:20).

Where did all the wood for the Tabernacle come from? Trees in the desert are barely large enough for kindling, much less planks. The Midrash Beresheet Raba 94 teaches that Jacob planted acacia trees on his way down to Egypt so his descendants would have wood. Much like the story of Choni the Circle Maker meeting the man planting a carob tree, this Midrash teaches us to think about the future and care for those coming after us.

Planting ahead

Deserts have some scrubby brush

but I wouldn’t say they’re lush.

So, I have to wonder where

the wood for planks did appear. 

Someone had the foresight to

plant a grove that would accrue

trees with trunks that span full girth,

wood that would someday be worth

cutting into sturdy planks

to build a space to give God thanks.

When Jacob made his way on down

to Egypt he saw barren ground.

He thought about descendants who

would make their way back on through.

God helped him see the Tabernacle.

He knew it was a chore to tackle.

He planted trees not for his good

but so future children would have wood.

Think always of impending needs

and help the future with our deeds.

Rabbi Elana Zelony serves Congregation Beth Torah in Richardson. She is a member of the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas.

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