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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Pkudei

Parashat Pekudey

The Mishkan of Our Time

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Dedicated to the speedy recovery of
Asher Ishaayahu Ben Rivka
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"These are the accounts of the mishkan, the mishkan of the testimony" (Ex.38:21)
Eileh Pekudei Hamishkan, Mishkan Ha'eidut... The words "mishkan of the testimony" are really an abbreviated way of saying, "the mishkan which contained the tablets of the testimony" which is what the tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments were usually called (Ex. 25:16), that is to say, the tablets which testify to the covenant between God and Israel.

The midrash, however, finds here the thought that perhaps there is a sense in which the mishkan itself, by virtue of what is done therein, can "testify" to all the world that the Divine Presence dwells in Israel and that God can be found in ordinary human experience.

But how were the people able to achieve this? In its answer, the midrash connects this question to the problem of the "surplus" (Nothar). It should be remembered that when Moshe called for contributions of materials for the mishkan, we are told: "For the material was sufficient for all the work and there was left over" (Ex. 36:7). So Moshe asked Hashem: "What shall we do with the surplus?" Hashem said to him: "Go and make with it a mishkan of the testimony" (Levit. Rabbah 51:2).

Had the people not been so generous and had given just enough, then the end result would have indeed been a complete mishkan: functional, aesthetically pleasing and halakhically kosher. However, it would not have been Mishkan Ha'eidut, it would not have radiated any message of kedusha or shechinah to the outside world. For human constructions can radiate spirituality only when it is recognizable that something "extra", a special enthusiasm, a readiness to sacrifice has gone into the effort.

We, in our day, have been called upon to build a national mishkan, a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael. B.H., it has grown and developed with a Jewish population of close to 5½ million! It is extolled as an economic powerhouse, as a regional super power, as a city of refuge, but it is still not a "Mishkan Edut". For there is no spiritual "surplus" (Nothar). The only ones who can achieve this are religious Jews who recognize in the state of Israel the "hand of God" and the fulfillment of Torah prophecy. It is good to contribute funds, buy vacation homes, visit periodically and send our young people to study in Yeshivot - but the "surplus," that extra dedication will become visible and begin to radiate only when religious Jews begin to make aliyah in waves. Only then will the world realize that it is spiritual values that lie at the heart of Jewish homecoming.

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This is a weekly column contributed by Aloh Naaleh an organization devoted to motivating Jews to make Aliya.
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POB 4337, Jerusalem 91042
Tel: 972-2-566-1181 ext. 320 ~ Fax: 972-2-566-1186
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