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יום הכיפורים תשפ"א באתר ישיבה
Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Terumah

WE ARE THE MISHKAN!

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Our Sedra of Teruma lists the many, magnificent items which were in the Mishkan/Bet HaMikdash. Made from donations by the general populace, they represented the heart and soul of Am Yisrael and glorified the Almighty.

The overall "mission statement" of the Mishkan can be encapsulated in the command by Hashem, "V’Asu Li Mikdash, V’Shachanti B’Tocham" – Make for me a sanctuary, and I shall dwell within it – or within you. What, exactly, does that phrase mean? I suggest that the various objects here are more than just evocative works of art to inspire or admire; they are meant to both mimic the midot of the Shechina (G-d's presence) and serve as a model for how we - every Jew - can turn our own selves into a kind of living, breathing Mishkan into which G-d and G-dliness can enthusiastically enter and dwell within.

There is the Mizbeyach, upon which the offerings were brought. This was our primary conduit for giving, and for expressing our innermost thoughts. To say, "Thank you" for the gifts and favors we enjoy, as well as, "I’m sorry," for
the failings and "fashlas" we commit. The Mizbeyach also represents the sacrifices that we may often be called upon to make, in both our personal and collective lives.

Then there is the Aron Kodesh, the repository of the Luchot-tablets, both the whole and broken sets. At times we, all of us, are Shalem, whole; at other times we are nishbar, broken. But at all times we must internalize and embody the Mitzvot engraved on those stones. We must pursue knowledge, and carry out the dictates and directives of the Divine which define our life.

Atop the Aron are the Keruvim – baby-faced angels, male and female, whose wings spread over the Aron and protect the place from which G-d’s voice emanates. The Keruvim represent innocence, purity, a lack of cynicism, and Love. If we can emulate those qualities, then we, too, can merit to hear G-d’s voice anytime we choose to listen.

Finally, there is the Menora, the Eternal Light. Its purpose was to demonstrate G-d’s eternal presence, as it burned night and day, even being lit on Shabbat. It reminds us that Hashem is always with us. The Menora also prods us to spread light wherever we go, to enlighten others and care not only for our bodies, but for our souls as well, for fire is the primary symbol of the Neshama.

While the Mishkan/Bet HaMikdash may be (temporarily) absent, each of us can ourselves become one, and in doing so, become One with Hashem.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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