Posted in Dvar Torah, on February 27, 2014

Parshat Pekudei

Now that we have finally reached the end of our journey to set up the Mishkan, and God’s glory has finally rested in cloud-form over the Mishkan, it is time that we take another objective look at the Mishkan.  However, I want to point out something that is often overlooked, and is definitely not the main explanation of the preceding series of events.
I want to make the claim that the Mishkan is not ideal.
The Talmud in Tractate Megilla explains that the word “Ya’Yehi”  (“And it was”) is linked with bad fortune and evil.  They ask:  Could this be so?  But when the Jews set up the Mishkan and bring the sacrifices (as we will see soon in the book of Vayikra) it says “And it will be on the eighth day…?”  They answer that while there was great happiness, the sons of Aaron died, and so there was still evil happening.
It seems as if there is some sort of aura of “bad fortune” that is associated with the setting up the Mishkan.
Furthermore, there is a Midrash that explains that God’s voice that spoke to the Jews on Mt. Sinai resonated across the entire world.  Rashi in Bamidbar explains that the very same voice that reverberated at Mt. Sinai also spoke to Moses in the Mishkan.  However, this voice, though it was as loud as the original one, was unable to pass through the walls of the Mishkan.  It could not “breach” the walls.
Lastly, in the book of Samuel, the Tanach explains to us that although Samuel at first would get prophecy, he was unable to understand it.  Why?  They say that God’s voice was unable to “breach” into his understanding.
I would like to explain these stories the following way:  God’s voice and his Torah is supposed to be apparent EVERYWHERE.  His voice should be heard around the world, and appreciation for his kindness should exist in all facets of every human’s life.  However, since His presence is unable to “breach” the mental and societal block of the human being in every aspect of his life, His presence is only manifested in certain locations.
As we discussed a couple weeks ago, maybe the Mishkan is really not ideal.  Maybe really God’s “Temple” is the entire world!!  We say every day during Kedusha (A prayer said several times daily, which quotes the prophets’ description of the angels’ praise for God) that Hashem’s “glory fills the entire world.”   Perhaps this idea of the “Mishkan” is really just a limit on the real potential the world has to experience God!!
If this is true, then we have to realize our limitations.  We first have to be able to understand God on a “Mishkan” level.  This means that first we have to be able to pray to God, learn God’s Torah, etc.  Our acts of kindness should parallel God’s constant kindness to us; our morality should be one connected with spirituality and significance to something greater than ourselves.  Only once we master making our “religious” life part of God can we go onto the next level.
And this next level is really the ideal.  One day every facet of our lives should really be for spiritual reasons.  We should strive to be role models in our daily lives.  When we learn science we should be amazed at God’s world the same way that we can be when we learn Torah!
Only when God’s presence can “breach” the walls, and become part of every aspect of our life can we really fulfill our goals.  This is why the Mashiach (Messiah) is said to descend from “Peretz”.  Peretz in Hebrew is from the root PRTZ, to breach.  In Lecha Dodi we say, “Yamin U’Smol Tifrotzi”.  To the right and to the left you shall be “breached.”
The Mishkan point of view is the first step, but it is certainly not the end of the road.  We must learn to let our lives be “breached”.  We must let our guard down and really allow God in.
Chazak Chazak V’Nitchazek
Shabbat Shalom!
– Jonathan Levine

(Disclaimer:  The initial idea of this Dvar Torah was taken from a student of the YU Kollel in Israel, Rav Yosef Lowy)