The building of the Sanctuary or Tabernacle forms the subject of our Torah reading for the next five weeks. The intricate details of the structure have given rise to many symbolic interpretations. The most basic and fundamental is expressed in the words themselves:

“They shall make a Sanctuary for Me and I will dwell in them” (Shemot 25:8)

The Tabernacle represented, ultimately, the home we build for G-d within ourselves.

Let us look at some of the elements of that building and see how they can help us shape our own lives.

Three kinds of metal were required to build the Tabernacle: zahav, kesef, unechoshet, gold, silver and bronze (copper[1]) (Shemot 25:3).

The medieval commentators, the Ba’alei HaTosaphot give a beautiful interpretation that links these metals to the phases in a person’s life: our golden age, our silver age, and our bronze age.

What is our golden age? Our golden age is when we are in our prime. Our strength is at its maximum. It is the time when we are most active. This is the period when, in quantitative terms, the most gets done. We invest our energies into building our career, our family, our values.

What is our silver age? It is when golden hair turns silver. Come the age of the silver surfers when quantity is replaced with quality. Wisdom replaces strength. Experience replaces speed. We may move less quickly, but we move more effectively.

What is our bronze age? Our bronze age is our legacy. It is the imprint of our lives on others. The gold and silver in our lives become transmuted to a bronze that represents our lasting achievements.

One of the lasting lessons of covid has been to help us reassess the value of what we have: to treasure every moment, both silver and gold.

[1] The Biblical Hebrew term, nechoshet can refer to either pure copper, or brass or bronze which were alloys of copper and other metals. Pure copper is soft, like gold, and was only suitable for jewellery or plating. When more solid items were needed the alloy was required.