The building of the Mishkan or Tabernacle that forms the subject of our Torah reading for the next five weeks, required the use of three kinds of metal: zahav, kesef, unechoshet, gold, silver and bronze (copper)[i] (Shemot 25:3).

Recognising the underlying idea, that the Tabernacle represented, ultimately, the home we build for G-d within ourselves, the Baalei 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.

Our golden age is when we are in our prime. Our strength and energies are at their maximum. It is the time when we are most active. This is the period when, in quantitative terms, the most gets done.

Come the age of the silver surfers when quantity is replaced with quality. Wisdom replaces strength. Experience replaces speed. We may move less, but we move more effectively.

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.

[i] 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.