Home February 2014 Step into My Tent

Step into My Tent

God wanted to prove to the nations of the world that B’nei Yisrael was forgiven for the sin of the Golden Calf and chose to exhibit His uninterrupted love for them by “dwelling” specifically among them in the Mishkan (Tabernacle).
The Ramban takes another view of the Mishkan.  Since the Jewish people were given a certain level of kedushah (holiness) as a result of God’s revelation at Har Sinai, they now deserved to have God dwell among them.  The purpose of the Mishkan was to recapture the essence of what the Jewish nation experienced at Sinai in terms of the strong presence of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) and allow them to keep it with them at all times throughout their travels.
But Judaism maintains that Jews do not need a physical place in which to worship.  Midrash Rabbah explains that God wanted to address man’s limited ability to understand abstract and purely spiritual matters.  God is concerned that B’nei Yisrael, limited by five senses, should be able to relate to Him and, consequently, He likens His presence to that of a physical being.  By confining His spirit primarily to the specific location of the Mishkan, God hoped to alleviate much of our difficulty in serving Him.
The purpose of the rituals and sacrifices that were conducted in the Mishkan was not to satisfy God’s needs but, rather, to serve as a physical means for the Jewish people to worship God.  Coming on the heels of the Golden Calf episode, the commandment to build the Mishkan was extremely important.  When the Torah later describes the actual construction of the Mishkan, there is a constant repetition of the phrase “as God commanded” to stress that the crucial difference distinguishing the Mishkan from the Golden Calf is that the Mishkan was sanctioned by God.
The second paragraph states, “. . . . have them take for Me an offering (terumah) from everyone whose heart impels him to give . . . .”   The donation of these funds would allow for the construction of the Mishkan.  The term “terumah” (donation) came to denote a gift not to exceed 20 percent of one’s wealth.  This way, rich nobles could not claim primary responsibility for having financed the Mishkan.  Less wealthy individuals were urged to contribute as well and not be embarrassed by the small amount they could afford to donate.
The whole concept of the building of the Mishkan – including the monetary collection – would ultimately result in an entity that unified the People of Israel, devoid of the tension and class conflicts that could develop between people of different levels of wealth.

From the Torah to Your Table
There is a great chasm separating thought from action.  While many people may have lofty thoughts and aspirations, relatively few succeed in realizing their goals.  This is why the Torah stresses the noteworthy feat that took place when B’nai Yisrael built the Tabernacle.  “Everyone whose heart stirred him up” to contribute to the Mishkan “brought an offering for God” and took the necessary action to bring his goal to fruition.
Comment on this principle at your Sabbath table.

ADAR I 5774
Candle Lighting Times
and Torah Portions

Saturday, February 1
Torah Portion: Terumah
(Exodus 25:1-27:19)
Friday, February 7
Light candles at 5:10 p.m.
Saturday, February 8
Torah Portion: Tetzaveh
(Exodus 27:20-30:10)
Friday, February 14
Light candles at 5:16 p.m.
Saturday, February 15
Torah Portion: Ki Tissa
(Exodus 30:11-34:35)
Friday, February 21
Light candles at 5:22 p.m.
Saturday, February 22
Torah Portion: Vayakhel
(Exodus 35:1-38:20)
Friday, February 28
Light candles at 5:28 p.m.


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