Dear Friends,

 

The Torah tells this week of the completion of the Mishkan-the sanctuary which the Israelites erected after leaving Egypt. It was built to be portable so that it could be carried from place to place during the forty-year journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.

But our early sages tell us that originally, there was no plan fora physical sanctuary.  After all, we don’t believe that God lives within our temple’s walls any more so than God can be found outside our walls. But our rabbis recognized the need of the Israelites for a physical symbol of the Divine presence, and so the commandment: “Let the Israelites build a sanctuary so that they may dwell among them.”

We note that the Torah does not state “that I may dwell” in it; rather “that I may dwell “among them.” Yes, we believe that there is a spark of the Divine within each person, and that the Divine presence is most felt in the love, compassion and generosity that we show toward one another.  So does the physical temple seek to remind and reinforce those values, and to remind us of those things in life which count most. 

Our ancestors went from being slaves who built pyramids, to a free people who built a sanctuary that would ever-remind us of the holiness of freedom, and the holiness of acts of loving-kindness toward each other and our fellow human beings. I see that as one of the great contributions of Judaism to the world.

I wish you a Sabbath of love, tranquility and peace.

 
Shabbat shalom,   

         Rabbi David Greenberg