Sanctify (Veyakhel-Pekudei)

by Janet Ruth Falon (Elkins Park, PA)

God, that very exacting architect, tells us seven times
What we need to build a Mishkan –
The skins, the acacia wood, the stones
The gold, the oils, the lapis lazuli —
And post by post,
Socket by socket,
Loop by loop,
How exactly to put it together
Or risk unspoken but surely imagined repercussions
(not the least of which might be a volcano or tsunami
that would force us to start from the ground up
and go searching, again, for copper and silver, etcetera).

And each one of those seven times
that we’re told about building that Mishkan
God, that very exacting fashionista,
Tells us what to use to make the clothes for the priests –
The yarns, the chains, the linens,
the agate and crystal and sapphires —
And braid by braid,
Sash by sash,
Hem by hem,
How exactly to put it together

All of which makes me feel a whole lot better
About how much I like jewelry.

And I’m not talking diamonds, by the way.

(I also have a many-color jacket I call Joseph
As in, “I think I’ll wear Joseph today.”)


I like the idea of adorning myself
Not so much because I’m such a beauty
(although my husband thinks I am – and,
no surprise here, I have my own body-image issues,
just like almost every other woman I know)

No, I like the idea of adorning myself
(And I just realized that if you get rid of the “n”
you’re left with adoring and,
no surprise here, I don’t always feel so great about myself
just like almost every other person I know)

I like adorning myself
Because, as they tell me, I’m made in God’s image
And when I imagine Her I no longer see
That severe old man who looks like Santa without his suit
Wrapped, instead, in a white sheet
That billows in the wind like a March in-like-a-lion afternoon

Instead, I see someone tall and elegant
Like the Statue of Liberty if she softened into flesh
with silver hair and lots of silver jewelry
that shimmers by sun and glows by moon,
decorated with stones that breed in earth’s belly.
She’d have what people call “bearing”
She’d be what people call a handsome woman

So to sum all this up,
if I look like God
And God is a looker,
Who cares, apparently, about appearances,
Lord knows I’d better look good.

Janet Ruth Falon, the author of The Jewish Journaling Book (Jewish Lights, 2004), teaches a variety of writing classes — including journaling and creative expression — at many places, including the University of Pennsylvania.  She leads a non-fiction writing group and works with individual students, and is continuing to write Jewish-themed readings for what she hopes will become a book, In the Spirit of the Holidays.

1 Comment

Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity

One response to “Sanctify (Veyakhel-Pekudei)

  1. The idea of your current book is exciting, Janet! Good luck with the project.

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