I understand why the Mishkan was built with copper, silver and gold, because they are the most prestigious metals. And I understand why wood would be used for building materials.

But why specifically Atzei Shittim? It seems to me that a type of wood that can be used for the Aron Haedut must be very special, but why specifically this kind of wood?

  • 1
    Interesting premise. Do you have a source for copper, silver and gold being most prestigious? That source might contain a clue about cedar/acacia/_shitim_ as well and would strengthen the question. It also might address the availability of the materials that could adjust the premise to a narrower scope from which to select.
    – WAF
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 10:02
  • Interestingly, copper, silver gold and wood do present different "Kabbalic" qualities, like gold is for Din and Silver is for Hessed, but I couldn't find this differentiation for different types of woods.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 10:28
  • Well, for one thing, only copper, silver and gold were ever used as currency. Also, the difference between wood and metals is that all gold is the same but there are many kinds of wood. Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 10:35
  • Maybe that was the kind of tree that grew around there? They weren't flying to California for redwoods
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


It says in the Maamer Basi Legani 5711 and all of the other Basi Legani Maamarim of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, which were said (at least) one per year for a course of about 40 years, that the special point of the "Shittim" wood that was used to make the Mishkan, is because the word "Shittim" is related to the Hebrew word for "Shtus" -- simply translated as "folly", but it really means to turn, like leaning to one side or the other, like sitra achara -- the other "side", it literally means "side" or turning to one side or the other; this could be expressed into evil, like turning to the side of evil "below reason", which is why its called "folly"; but the same word "Shtus" -- turning to a particular side, could also have meaning regarding "turning" to the holy side, turning to the side which is "beyond reason" -- holiness beyond simple understanding (as opposed to "folly" which is just below understanding), and the "Shittim" wood was used for the essential components of the Mishkan (as opposed to just the covering), because the entire point of the Mishkan -- the dwelling place for Hashem in this universe, is to transform the "Shtus" -- "turning" of the "evil side" (referred to as "folly") into the "Shtus" -- turning to the side of, holiness, and that is the entire purpose of the Mishkan, to transform darkness to light and evil into holiness, through the Avodah of "Hiskafia (subduing the evil inclination in one's day-to-day life) and Hishafcha (not only subduing the evil, but transforming it into holiness), and through doing that in our own divine service, that causes Hashem to dwell in the lower worlds, in you yourself, just like He is in the Mishkan.

So basically, the reason why "Shittim" wood was used for the Mishkan:

because the actual, physical Mishkan's entire idea was to be a dwelling for Hashem in this world, and the same is true for each of us to make a dwelling for Hashem, so it was made with Shittim wood in order to teach us a lesson of how to transform our own darkness into light, and also because that was the whole idea of what the actual Mishkan was based of, turning the "Shtus" of evil to the "Shtus" of holiness, see the above Maamarim at length...

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