One accusation against proponents of Orthodoxy is that we are at times very detail focused.
Our faith and laws constitute an awareness of very small details that are at times taken very seriously.
A look into our Parsha reveals again critical focus on the instruments and vessels that we need to operate our portable sanctuary, as well the dimensions and materials needed for its construction.
Perhaps we should take another viewpoint to this often unjust criticism;
In the areas of life that are important every detail matters: If we are sending an important email and place the dot in the wrong place, a capital letter instead of lowercase, a 0 instead of an o – the important work email never gets to its intended recipient, an online payment with one or two extra zeros could be a real problem!
Inside our phones are thin tiny circuit boards intricately placed together that allow the world of information to be at our fingertips. I was present at Guy’s Hospital in London to see neonatal heart surgeries; tiny tools and profound expertise that allowed for lives to be saved.Our Torah is indeed one of details, of checking Tzizit strings, amounts of wine, flour, days of the lunar month, halachic statues and gazing at Etrogim:
In our lives the details matter because our God, Hashem is the master of details – he has created a universe with complexity and nuance and asks us, please be attentive to My universe, see how I have created it and come to recognize my artistry and craftsmanship:
When it comes to our lives, our health, our businesses, our pursuits and pastimes we tend to all be very interested in the details; a person with understanding knows that for every possible interest, item or study on the planet there are accredited experts and books written on the subject – the reverse of this criticism is actually true:
The reason we are so detail focused on the areas of life associated with our Torah, is because the Jewish People are experts in Torah; the Torah being a source of life – because we are experts in living:
Our people have survived endless persecution, both physically and spiritually, both from our enemies and from within our people seeking secularism and ultimately assimilation into their surrounding culture – nothing is new there, from those in the days of the Tanach who worshiped the nations deities, to the Hellenists who wanted to be part of Greek culture to our times where the desire is to be free of ancient control systems and social norms and embrace postmodern individualism.
Being an expert in life is not simply about; making money, having health, having a happy and peaceful marriage, encouraging education and success for our children, and whilst those are certainly elements, there is an overall understanding that a successful life is about achieving a meaningful life.
People make a small but costly error, they see a meaningful life encapsulated by moments of profound happiness, certificates, money or accolades – we have these as well.But it is in the day-to-day small moments that we are able to express our Judaism and return each moment to a spiritual and meaningful experience:
Awakening, dressing, partaking in food, even using the bathroom becomes a profound opportunity to thank Hashem for the lives we have and for the small moments that our lives are composed of, it allows us the opportunity to build a Mishkan within the context of our lives; to understand that Hashem’s presence is able to dwell within the seemingly mundane and through partnership with Him we can elevate every moment of our lives to Holiness by remembering that there is nothing mundane about the miracle of life or the power of our Creator.
Rabbi Jonathan Goldschmidt 2023 ©