Within a few short weeks, the weekly parshah will address the topics of the Mishkan (tabernacle) and the kohen’s begadim (priestly vestments). What better way to prepare for this reading than actually seeing, up close and personal, the objects mentioned in the text.
Recently ArtScroll introduced a DVD called “Mishkan,” which truly revolutionizes the way one can learn about the Mishkan. In the past, students were only able to learn about the Mishkan through pictures, close readings of the relevant texts, or by visiting an exhibition. This program takes the learning experience a step forward by allowing viewers to have a virtual 3D experience from the comfort of their own homes. Due to today’s advancing technology, most home computers can handle the software necessary to run this, thereby making it a reality that virtually every Jewish home can own.
There are numerous features in this program. For starters there is one allowing you to view realistic images, where you are shown different angles of objects in the Mishkan and can read about different scholarly opinions, i.e. how the menorah looked. Accompanied with the images are passuk by passuk (verse by verse) explanations of the text. You can actually view the passukim and Rashi’s corresponding explanation, which is from the ArtScroll Sapirstein’s edition of Rashi. This is valuable when trying to enhance your learning by reading what other sources are saying concerning your particular viewing item.
Although Rashi is the most common, many additional sources were compiled in this program – namely from Gemaras and the Rambam. If these sources did not elaborate on a particular subject, other sources like Maaseh Choshev were used. Many other works were used for this project, and are too numerous to mention here. There is a listing of the works that were used on the program within the program.
If you have no patience to view the texts, the program features an audio option that allows you to hear a master educator explain the background and insight regarding the Mishkan, etc. This feature will help clarify some of the difficult verses.
The program’s animation feature allows you to see how the keilim (vessels) are formed and assembled. The 3D models let you zoom in and out, or maneuver the vessels into different positions. There are detailed measurements listed next to the vessels, giving you their exact dimensions.
For children and adults alike there is also a video animation that helps bring the Mishkan to life by giving you a bird’s-eye view in the Midbar (desert), and allowing you to see the Mishkan the way the builders saw it. You are also given the ability to see how the entire Mishkan, along with its vessels, was assembled. Not only can you see the vessels, but you can also view the kohen’s begadim.
Last but not least, one must highlight the interactive walkthrough feature. This amazing feature allows you to maneuver through the Mishkan, as you get to experience walking up the ramp of the Mizbeach and viewing the wood burning on it. You can visit other areas, such as the Menorah, Shulchan and the inner Mizbeach. You can even enter the area where the Aron resided.
The minimum hardware requirements to run this DVD/software are a screen resolution of 1024×768 with 16 MB of VRAM, and of course a DVD drive. The recommended specifications are at least a Gig of RAM, 32 MB of VRAM and a DVD Drive. Based on my experience with the program, the faster your system, the more you will be able to maximize its potential.
This software can run on Windows 2000, XP, and Vista. If you are running Windows 2000 or XP at minimum, you need to have an Intel Pentium 3 (1GHz). Recommended for XP or later is at least 1.8 GHz (or faster). To emphasize a prior point – the faster the computer, the better the program will run. The 3D feature requires a lot of power to fully utilize its capabilities. Those computers that fall short may need to have the programs settings adjusted in order to be viewed properly.
It can also run on a MAC (in windows virtualization only). A G4, G5, or an Intel Macintosh (1.67 GHZ or faster) is recommended.