Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Building the Mishkan Is Building Yourself

Violating Shabbos intentionally is a capital crime; with witnesses and warning beis din is empowered to remove the person from this world, but in any case he has removed himself from the next.  You would think that something with such dire consequences would have the rules and all their details clearly stated.  Yet, all of hilchos Shabbos is revealed to us by reminding us not to violate the Shabbos even while building that most holy of structures, the mishkan.  That's tantamount to the human resources director telling you, "Of course I told you about our zero tolerance policy regarding immediate dismissal for sexual harassment; I mentioned that we expect you to keep all our rules just as we walked past the receptionist desk!"

There is a lot to say about why the Torah chose to reveal hilchos Shabbos via this simple adjacency, so let's just take that as a given for now.  The S'porono however, adds a chilling nuance.  If one violates Shabbos in building the mishkan, then he has ruined it; there's no place the HaShem's presence after that.  Really?  I have a computer for work; in fact, I am no able to do my job without a computer.  The don't really seem to mind if I use it for other things, as long as I get my work done.  I imagine that if they wanted to fire someone, they would include the fact that he used the computer for non-work activities as part of their justification.  However, they are not going to fire someone who is doing a great job for them just because the misappropriated some time on his laptop.  After all, he is still making a lot of money for them, just not as much as he could be.  Why in the world, then, would HaShem turn away from our avoda in one area because of indiscretions in another?

Because we aren't working for HaShem.  "Take a donation for Me," HaShem says at the beginning of parshas T'ruma.  "Take a donation"?!  "Give a donation," is what it should say.  "Build a mishkan so I can reside in you"?!  "Build a mishkan so I can reside in it," would seem to be the proper grammatical construct.  And from whence did we get all that gold, silver, copper, and what not in the wilderness anyway?  We had retrieved the gold, silver, copper, and what not that washed up in the shores of the Yam Suf from the heavily bejeweled, begolded, besilvered, becoppered, and bewhatnotted horses/chariots/riders that were drowned in the sea.  If the all that gold, silver, copper, and what not was meant for the mishkan anyway, why didn't HaShem just instruct us to gather it up for that purpose?  We were all feeling mighty beholden to the Creator at that point for rescuing us from slavery, deposing our enemies in a dramatic show of power, and revealing to us such beautiful and awe-inspiring miracles.

The rescue from slavery, deposing our enemies in a dramatic show of power, and revealing to us such beautiful and awe-inspiring miracles was certainly meant to motivate and elevate us; to prepare us to be worthy of being the am ha'nivchar -- the chosen nation.  Giving us the gold, silver, copper, and what not was a further preparation.  By giving us the opportunity to give from our own possessions, we are further elevated; and almost there.  The final step is to do all that for no reason other than, "The King told us to."  The proof?  We stop on Shabbos.  We want nothing more than to receive our King, but he said to stop on Shabbos; we stop.

When we do all that, we became a holy nation.  If not, then we aren't serving the King, we are serving ourselves; we turn the mishkan itself into nothing more than another vatican -- a beautiful and ornate coffin.  When we keep the Shabbos, though, we ourselves become a living extension of the divine presence.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…