Even since the establishment of the modern State of Israel, many of the qualifications for returning to full observance of these laws in lacking. For example, to reestablish the Shnat HaYovel, (“the Jubilee Year”), the end of a fifty year cycle when all land in Israel reverts back to its ancestral owners, it is necessary for all of the original twelve tribes to be dwelling in the Land (which has not been the case for millennia). Similarly, at this time it isn’t possible to establish the Sanhedrin (High Court of Law.) These institutions, we are promised, must wait until the coming of the Messiah.
Of all of these currently defunct ideas, the concept of offering sacrifices is arguably the most foreign to us. In the future, we will discuss more the concept and necessity of animal offerings. However, the entirety of this week’s parsha deals exclusively with the construction of the building where G-d would be served for many years, and was the for-runner of the two Holy Temples. This was the Mishkan, often translated as the “Tabernacle”. This was a sort of portable temple, which the Jews would carry around with them on their travels around the desert. And the Torah portion explains and lists every step of its construction.
How could reading these rather dry details possible be of any relevance to us today. Maybe when the Messiah comes the architects will consult these guidelines to help them construct the new Temple, but what could the average person have to do with this section of the Torah?
Our sages teach us that the Torah is eternally relevant. Even events that happened thousands of years ago can still hold great meaning for us today. And the details of this construction are no exception. There is a famous verse. G-d commands Moses; “ V’asu Li mikdash v’shochanti b’socham.” “Build for me a dwelling place, and I will dwell in them.” It’s very unusual. How many “dwelling places” did G-d ask to be built? Just one. But at the end of the statement G-d says, “And I will dwell in them”, in the plural!
There is a very moving idea explained at length in Kabbalah and Chassidic thought, that every person must build G-d a dwelling place inside of themselves. And once we prepare this place, G-d will dwell there. We all have the capability of making our heart into a Holy Temple, which in turn will allow G-d to dwell “in them”, in that holy place which is built inside each and every individual. Hence, G-d indeed has many Millions of dwelling places! This explains the plural nature of the verse. This is a general way how this week’s parsha is spiritually applicable to us. But it goes a step further. Next week, we will see how each aspect of the construction of the Mishkan directly corresponds to an aspect of our soul and our service to G-D.
We are gearing up for Purim, which is less than two weeks away! Purim is a very special holiday, and there are many unique Mitzvot connected with it, and we hope to share this festive time with all of you. Please see the attached flyer for details.
Wishing you and your family a Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Akiva Hall