And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Isaiah 8:17

If you are looking for messages about the Europe Area Humanitarian Mission, go to

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Talmud Scholar to Speak in Salt Lake

One of the preeminent authorities in the world on the Talmud, the Jewish “oral Torah,” will be speaking at the University of Utah next week.

For details, see .

 At the small dinner that some of us attended for Royal Skousen before his Tuesday night lecture, Professor Grant Hardy, of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, passed on an amusing old Jewish observation that he had gleaned by way of Moshe Halbertal.  It ran along these lines:

 Hell, it turns out, is not a place of flames and torturing devils.  Heaven is not a place of fluffy clouds and endless pleasure.  At the judgment, God will assemble the souls of all the dead into one vast hall.  There, he will pass out copies of the Talmud, which every soul will be invited to study.  For the wicked, such study will be hell.  For the righteous, it will be heavenly bliss.

LDS Church Disaster Relief 2012

The Church responded to more than disasters worldwide during the past year.  You can read about the response here in the LDS Newsroom.

Most of the emergency disaster service given in the Europe Area was due to severe weather.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Navigating Mormon History: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis

My son, Steve,

 recommended this blogpost by his friend Nate (here)

 quoting from an article by Dan Peterson (here).

I recommend "Mormon Interpreter" as a good blog to read and think about.  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Esther and Purim : this Week

In class I talked a bit about the book of Esther.  Purim (which celebrates the reading of the book of Esther) is this week.  You can learn more about the Jewish celebration here

Monday, February 18, 2013

Quilts Needed for Veterans in Payson

QUILTS OF VALOR:  Twin size quilts are needed for the Veterans Assisted Living Center in Payson.
The tied or quilted quilts are needed before May 27th.  We want to be able to donate as many quilts to
this project as we can.  These can be donated in loving memory of a loved one who has served in the Armed

If you have new TWIN sized quilts you would like to donate, contact Rebecca through email.  Thanks.

Friday, February 15, 2013

BYU to Host Church History Symposium in Salt Lake City & Provo

BYU will host Church History Symposium in Provo, Salt Lake City March 7-8
“Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World”
The Brigham Young University Church History Symposium, “Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World,” will be held Thursday, March 7, at Brigham Young University in Provo and Friday, March 8, at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City.  
Participants will learn how Joseph Smith’s studies of the ancient world affected his prophetic development. Admission is free and open to the public. No reservations are needed to attend the event.
The symposium will begin Thursday in the Harold B. Lee Library auditorium at 9 a.m. and continue until 4:30 p.m. The keynote address at 9 a.m. will be given by Richard L. Bushman, Gouverneur Morris professor of history emeritus at Columbia University. It will be followed by papers addressing Joseph Smith’s reading of ancient Jewish and Christian texts, his interaction with the scholars of his day and his interest in the ancient Americas.
Thursday’s plenary session will begin at 7 p.m. in the Joseph Smith Building Auditorium with remarks by Elder Steven E. Snow of the Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a plenary address by David F. Holland, professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The symposium will continue Friday at the Conference Center Little Theater from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will feature papers addressing Joseph Smith’s study of the Bible, contemporary biblical commentaries and biblical languages, and his relationship to 19th-century egyptology.
The event is sponsored by the BYU Religious Studies Center, Continuing Education, the Department of Church History and Doctrine and the Church History Library.
For more information, visit or contact Andrea Ramsey at (801) 422-3896 or : an interesting site on Jewish Tradition

This is a post on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness from an Orthodox Jewish perspective.

A Brief Overview of the Tabernacle

And they shall make me a holy [place], and I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)
After giving the Torah at Sinai, G‑dasked Moses to create a home for Him, so that He could dwell among His people. This was the Mishkan.
The Mishkan (Tabernacle) was a portable sanctuary, a spiritual center in the midst of the desert. It was the place where the People of Israelwould bring sacrifices to atone for sins or express gratitude. It was the place where G‑d would communicate with Moses, His voice emanating from between the cherubs atop the ark in the Holy of Holies.1 It was the place where G‑d was close to His people.2

How It Began

Hundreds of years before it was built, the Mishkan was already in the works. In fact, on his way down to Egypt, Jacob planted acacia trees, instructing his sons that their descendants should take the wood with them when they leave. That way they would have the right materials on hand when the command would come to build a Tabernacle.3
After Israel sinned with the Golden Calf and were forgiven, the command finally came. The Tabernacle would be a sign of the renewed closeness between G‑d and the Israelites.
G‑d specified that the work be overseen by Bezalel of the tribe of Judah, who was joined by Oholiab of Dan.4 Bezalel was Moses’ own nephew and a scion ofthe princely tribe, while Oholiab was of humble birth, but when it came to building a home for G‑d, all were equal.5 The people donated materials and set to work building, weaving, and crafting. Within a short time, the entire structure was complete.6

What Was It?

The Tabernacle sat inside a large courtyard that was 100 cubits long and 50 cubits wide (a cubit is approximately 19 inches, or 50 cm).7 The courtyard was surrounded by a linen partition, held up by wooden poles and fastened to the ground with stakes. In the center of the courtyard stood the large copper altar, which was used for animal sacrifices. The altar was so large that there was a long ramp leading up to the top. Between the copper altar and the entrance of the sanctuary stood the laver where the priests would wash their hands and feet.
The sanctuary itself was 30 cubits long and 10 cubits wide. Its walls were made of thick, gold-plated, acacia-wood beams standing side-by-side to form three sides of a rectangle. The beams were inserted into interlocking silver sockets and were held in place by long, gold-plated, wooden poles. A hanging curtain covered the fourth side.
The roof of the sanctuary was a tapestry, woven of linen and red, blue, and purple wool. The tapestry had two separate sections, which were attached to each other by a row of hooks. The tapestry was covered by a layer of goat hair, its panels similarly attached with hooks. These two layers covered the top of the structure and hung over the wooden walls of the Mishkan. Additionally, red-dyed ram skin and tachash8 skin covered the roof alone.9

What Was Inside?

The interior of the sanctuary was divided in two by a hanging tapestry. The anteroom, known as the Kodesh (the Holy), contained a number of items. On the southern side stood the golden menorah, whose seven branches the priests kindled every day. Near the northern wall stood a golden table, upon which the priests placed sacrificial show-bread every week. There was also a smaller golden altar upon which incense was offered twice daily.
The second, innermost room was known as the Kodesh HaKadashim, the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies contained the ark: a golden box that housed the Tablets (both the original, broken set and the second, complete set) and other sacred items. On the cover of the ark there were two golden cherubs facing each other with outstretched wings.
No one was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies except for the High Priest, and even he would enter only once a year as part of his Yom Kippur service.10
The Mishkan was made to travel. In fact, many of its contents were outfitted with special carrying poles and protective slipcovers. There were also six special wagons that were used to transport the heavy beams, sockets and curtains.


For a week, Moses practiced setting up and dismantling the Mishkan. Then, on the first of Nissan, just shy of one year after the Exodus from Egypt, Moses officially inaugurated the Tabernacle. The entire tent was filled with G‑d’s Presence, evidenced by a thick cloud, which prevented everyone – even Moses – from entering.11
For the next 12 days, the princes of the 12 Tribes of Israel brought inaugural sacrifices and gifts.12 The Tabernacle was not the exclusive domain of its stewards, the Levites (priests), but was the heritage of every Israelite.

How Long Did It Last?

The Mishkan traveled with the Israelites for 40 years in the desert. When the people entered the Land of Israel, the Mishkan came with them. For fourteen years, the Mishkan stood in Gilgal while the Israelites conquered and divided the land. Then they created a house of stone in Shiloh and spread the curtains of the Mishkan over it. The sanctuary of Shiloh stood for 369 years. At the end of that period, the sanctuary was moved to Nov, and then to Givon.13
When Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the relics of the Tabernacle were stored deep in the earth below it. According to tradition, since the Mishkan was built with pure intent, it was never destroyed. It is ready for G‑d to once again come to rest there.14
The sages debated about the primary purpose of the Mishkan. See The Kitchen or the Library for a wonderful discussion.
Midrash Tanchuma, Terumah 9.
Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Tisa 13.
The details of the layout and contents of the Mishkan are richly described in Exodus 25-34. Thus, no sources are provided for the descriptions that can be found in those chapters.
The Talmud tells us that the tachash was a now-extinct animal, which had appeared specifically for the purpose of being used to cover the Mishkan.
Rabbi Nechemia taught that these were two separate coverings, and Rabbi Yehuda taught that it was one covering made of both kinds of skins (see Rashi to Exodus 26:14).
Numbers 7.
Maimonides, Hilchot Beit Habechirah 1:2.
Tana D’bay Eliyahu Rabbah 25.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Enoch Conf in Logan : Room Change

To our friends interested in the February 19 conference on Enoch, sponsored by USU's Religious Studies Program and the Academy for Temple Studies:

The conference has been moved to Old Main 121.

Hope to see you there!

Philip Barlow
Director, Religious Studies

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lecture at University of Utah on Wednesday, February 6

Hartley Lachter to Lecture 

February 6

Professor Harley Lachter, Director of Jewish Studies at Muhlenberg College, will speak on:
“Human Bodies in Divine Form: Jewish and Christian Explorations in Kabbalah.” The lecture will be in the Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building, “The Jewel Box,” at the University of Utah, from 3:30-5:00 PM.

To get an idea of what Lachter may talk about, here is an essay he wrote for ZEEK, a Jewish journal of thought and culture
The lecture will be in CTIHB, off central campus drive.  See map here.