Friday, February 11, 2005

Parshat Trumah

This parsha speaks about the construction of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. This was the moveable sanctuary that housed the ark and within the ark, the Tablets that we received at Mount Sinai. This portable Mishkan would later be replaced by King Solomon with the Temple in Jerusalem.

Why did we need this Mishkan? Did the Jews wandering the desert need something else to bring with them on the way?

An explanation for why we need the Mishkan and later the Temple is important to think about, even today. It is important for us to understand that it is not because G-d needs a home on Earth or that we can confine G-d to one place. Or, G-d forbid, that He assumes physical shape. We know that G-d is everywhere and is involved in everything from the large events to helping us pass our exams.

When we speak about making a dwelling place for G-d it is much more than needing a hammer and some nails. The beginning of the parsha speaks about how the Jewish People contributed to the creation of the Mishkan, and were excited to do so. Up until this point in time, G-d had been doing everything for us without us being able to repay in any small way, even in appreciation. Spirituality had been given to us. We received the Ten Commandment and the Torah a couple chapters back and we’d been appointed G-d’s representatives in the world. Now it was time for us to work and incorporate our spirituality. We wanted to contribute to this Mishkan as showing that incorporation of G-dliness into our everyday lives. The giving of the Torah was a one time event. The Mishkan was to be taken with us every day, where ever we would travel.

How does this have an impact on our lives today?

There’s an interesting verse 25:8, “And they shall make Me (G-d) a sanctuary and I will dwell within them.”

This does not make sense. It should say, ‘They will make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell within it.’

This is the point. G-d does not need a physical house. This is the message for today. We are responsible to bring G-dliness into ourselves and our surroundings. We have to make ourselves holy by making ourselves into a Mishkan, and bringing holiness where ever we go. Holiness is not confined to the synagogue, or a place of worship, or relegated to our rabbis. It should be something that becomes part of our innate being as ordinary Jews in our every day actions.

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