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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Little Things That Shape Our Lives

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

The double Parshiyot of VeYakhel and Pekudei provide a fascinating account of the little things which combined, create the Mishkan. In these portions we have detailed descriptions of hooks and bands and wires and yarns and sinks and gratings and utensils which put together create the whole. This effort is spearheaded by the talented Betzalel, but those who contribute materials and time add to the efforts so it becomes a community effort.

This poem, " Little Things That Shape Our Lives" was inspired by the rhythm of these Parshiyot and a sense that the text was packed with detailed descriptions which led to an awareness that small things that exist in the background have their own histories and stories. I've tried a different type of poem below with a shape of the Mishkan.


Little Things That Shape Our Lives

It’s the gears and fans and cylinders made of cast iron that keep your car running it’s the thousands of nuts and bolts and nails and tons of concrete made from sand that hold the power plant together that helps to keep your house heated it’s the tiny connectors wires and adhesives in your phone that keep you connected put together by a person on a different continent trying to keep his family fed it’s the knives forks and spoons in your silverware drawer made in a factory by people pushing buttons assembling packaging inspecting delivering them to to the mega warehouse where you order them and pay for them with a card made of plastic carrying a magnetic strip made in Colorado from flecks of iron it’s the bristles on your plastic toothbrush and the elastics on your socks and the zippers on your pants and the silver backs of your earrings and the cool tiles under your feet and the drywall on your walls and the wires connecting your cable tv and the woven fabric of your blankets and sheets and the glass fit snugly into your window panes and the purple wool in the woven rug under your feet and the blue ink pumped into your pens and the cover of the milk bottle that keeps your milk fresh and the rubber tires on the trucks that deliver your beef farmed in Texas and the oranges picked by someone on a ladder in Florida for the juice you drank this morning in a small blue glass and the cows milked at milking machines for your Greek yogurt who are fed hay grown in a field watered by an irrigation system that some talented person invented and it’s the book by your bed with pages made of paper taken from trees planted in forests watered for generations and it’s the pigment that makes the ink on that page and an author sitting by the fireplace with her head in the clouds writing those words drinking coffee harvested from Central America picked and washed and roasted and transported to a Starbucks near you delivered hot in a recyclable paper cup by a friendly barista paying college tuition it’s the knots on your tzitzit made of silk from silkworms fed with mulberry leaves in China or wool taken from sheep fed with silage on farms in Australia that are cut and woven and tied and knotted and attached to your tallit for you to kiss as you thank God, the Creator who has given humans intelligence and creativity talents and diligence to continue to create worlds.

It takes a world to create a world.

A world of people and a world of things,

Little things that shape our lives.


Exodus 35:10-14

And let all among you who are skilled come and make all that the LORD has commanded:

אֶת־הַ֨מִּשְׁכָּ֔ן אֶֽת־אָהֳל֖וֹ וְאֶת־מִכְסֵ֑הוּ אֶת־קְרָסָיו֙ וְאֶת־קְרָשָׁ֔יו אֶת־בְּרִיחָ֕ו אֶת־עַמֻּדָ֖יו וְאֶת־אֲדָנָֽיו׃ the Tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its clasps and its planks, its bars, its posts, and its sockets;

אֶת־הָאָרֹ֥ן וְאֶת־בַּדָּ֖יו אֶת־הַכַּפֹּ֑רֶת וְאֵ֖ת פָּרֹ֥כֶת הַמָּסָֽךְ׃ the ark and its poles, the cover, and the curtain for the screen;

אֶת־הַשֻּׁלְחָ֥ן וְאֶת־בַּדָּ֖יו וְאֶת־כָּל־כֵּלָ֑יו וְאֵ֖ת לֶ֥חֶם הַפָּנִֽים׃ the table, and its poles and all its utensils; and the bread of display;

וְאֶת־מְנֹרַ֧ת הַמָּא֛וֹר וְאֶת־כֵּלֶ֖יהָ וְאֶת־נֵרֹתֶ֑יהָ וְאֵ֖ת שֶׁ֥מֶן הַמָּאֽוֹר׃ the lampstand for lighting, its furnishings and its lamps, and the oil for lighting;

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