"These are the accounts of the Tabernacle"
I Adar 28, 5771/March 4, 2011
The Torah reading of Pekudei, literally "accounts" starts off mundanely enough. The first forty two verses are no more than a long list of all the details of the Tabernacle, its vessels, and the priestly raiments. We've read all this before, earlier in Exodus, so we can surely be excused for wondering where all this is leading to. But then, all of a sudden, from this earthly inventory bursts forth a beauty of cosmic proportion: "Now they brought the Tabernacle (Mishkan) to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings... Moses saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it - as HaShem had commanded, so had they done. So Moses blessed them." (ibid 39:33,43) These two verses are nothing less than references and recollections and reflections and refractions of the original account of creation that we read all the way back in the book of Genesis.
"Now they brought the Mishkan to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings... " (ibid 39:33) recalls how "G-d formed from the earth every beast of the field and every fowl of the heavens, and He brought them to man to see what he would call it, and whatever the man called each living thing, that was its name." (Genesis 2:19) That is, G-d brought to man all He had created in order that man would invest G-d's creation with meaning and purpose, and that man would understand from this accounting just what his own purpose was to be in the great G-dly scheme of things. Here too, the people of Israel bring before Moses all these sundry man-made creations of wood and animal skins, of stones and fabrics and precious metals, for Moses to behold and to determine its meaning and purpose. And Moses, rising to the occasion, sees the fullness of Israel's efforts, and "Moses saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it - as HaShem had commanded, so had they done. So Moses blessed them." (ibid 39:43)
Just as Adam, the first man understood from the parade of beasts that G-d brought before him that only he was missing a mate and that it was not good to be alone, so too, the Tabernacle, in all its various components has been brought before Moses. And the conclusion is not simply that man and G-d need not be alone, but that the Tabernacle is here to serve as the means by which G-d's presence and man's service to G-d can be united and made manifest here on this earth.
And from here we can understand that just as G-d created a Garden of Eden and placed man within it in order to "work it and to guard it" (Genesis 2:15) so too G-d has commanded Israel to construct the Tabernacle, and appoint the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, and place him within the Holy Tabernacle, so that Israel can work, (the Hebrew avodah meaning both "to work" in the profane sense, and to perform the Divine service in the Tabernacle), serving G-d from this place of purity and life.
And in both instances, that of Adam in the Garden of Eden, (who stumbled), and Israel in the Tabernacle, (subsequently, the Holy Temple), G-d, after completing the work of creation, directs, through His word, what amounts to post-creation fine-spiritual tuning, literally, taking the great cosmic symphony of creation, and perfecting it, achieving through the Divine service in the Holy Temple, an overwhelmingly beautiful harmony of purpose and aspiration for all mankind.
We also learn from Genesis, that " ... no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because HaShem G-d had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil." (ibid 2:5) Yes, before the advent of the Tabernacle and the Divine service, the world had yet to fully blossom, man had yet to fully reach his potential. Little wonder, then, that G-d commanded Moses, saying, "On the day of the first month, on the first of the month, you shall set up the Mishkan of the Tent of Meeting." (Exodus 40:1) This, of course, is the month of Nisan, the month of the exodus from Egypt, the month which heralds the onset of spring: "The blossoms have appeared in the land, the time of singing has arrived, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land." (Song of Songs 2:12) Creation will hit it's stride, the world will truly come alive when Israel again establishes G-d's Sanctuary. The time of singing, the transcendent song of the Levites will once again arrive, and the voice of Torah will come forth from Zion, and once again be heard throughout the land. It begins with an accounting, a taking stock and appreciation of every detail of G-d's creation and comes to a crescendo with the work of the Tabernacle, the establishment of G-d's Holy Temple!
Tune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss the Tabernacle & the Half-Shekel, and wax lyrical concerning the completion of the Mishkan in the desert, connecting the dots and examining the Torah portion of Pekudei, only to find to that it contains nothing new... but at the same time, it's brand new! It's that 'ol feeling of deja vu - we've read all this before. And we've built a house for the Creator before! It's not rocket science! We did it once, we did it twice - we can do it again. Really, why wait any longer for the world to begin?
Music of the Holy Temple: An All-New Light to the Nations video series: The Sweetest Music on Earth: The music of the Holy Temple was indeed the sweetest music on earth, and that is because it was the Levitical expression of the music of heaven. The music of the Levitical Choir and Orchestra was an integral part of the Divine service of the Holy Temple. Every day of the year, Shabbat and festival holidays included, the music of the Levites was heard in the Temple courtyards and throughout Jerusalem. What kind of music was played? What part did the music play in the Divine service? What instruments were used and how was the Levitical orchestra formulated? What will the music of the rebuilt Holy Temple sound like? In this five part Light to the Nations video series, Rabbi Chaim Richman and musicologist Rabbi David Louis explore the music of the Holy Temple, a fascinating and sublimely beautiful aspect of the Divine service.
To view Light to the Nations Music of the Holy Temple, Part I: The Sweetest Music on Earth, please click here.
This week features the Bat Melech video teaching with Rabbanit Rena Richman, entitled, "The Secret of Challah, Part II: Please join Rena in her special teaching for women. This lesson was originally recorded in Houston, Texas, and is being presented on UTN in four parts.
We are all created and imbued with G-d given potential to achieve many great and good things in our lives. By following the commandments given us by Torah we can learn how to discover, develop and bring to fruition the unique potential that is within us. Learn the secret of your own hidden potential and how to fulfill it by serving G-d, in this exploration of the simple commandment to take challah when preparing bread." Click here to view.
This upcoming Saturday night, motzei Shabbat, (March 5), - is Rosh Chodesh Adar II - the first day of the new month of Adar II, the twelth and final month of the yearly cycle that begins with Nisan, ("the first of your months" Exodus 12:2), the month of the exodus from Egypt. When the Holy Temple is standing and the Divine service is being performed daily, the month of Adar is full of preparations for the upcoming Passover pilgrimage festival which begins on the 15th of Nisan. In addition, the month of Adar is the month that the half-shekel is collected. To learn more, please click here.
Interview: Chaim Odem, Master Craftsman for the Temple Institute: Master craftsman Chaim Odem is the designer and creator of the the golden Menorah that currently stands in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, overlooking the Temple Mount. Chaim has also designed and produced other Temple vessels on behalf of the Temple Institute, including a model of the Ark of the Covenant. Chaim is currently working on recreating the Golden Lamp of Queen Helena, to be hung from the great entrance to the Holy Temple sanctuary. Chaim Odem personifies the two criteria spelled out by Torah concerning the craftsmen and women of the Tabernacle in the desert: "wise of heart" (Exodus 35:10) and "generous of spirit." (Exodus 35:21)
In this interview Chaim tries to answer the question how he merited building the golden Menorah for the Holy Temple. His story begins as a young man in the Soviet Republic of Georgia, where news of Israel's victory in the 1967 Six Day War awoke within him for the first time an awareness of his Jewish identity, something that had been denied him growing up in the communist totalitarian state. Chaim's story is one of faith, perseverance and eventual aliya (emigration) to Israel. Click here to view.
Learn more about the construction of the Tabernacle in the desert. Please click here.
The Golden Lamp of Queen Helena: The Video: Watch this beautiful presentation of a dream in the making - a work in progress. To view this 2.5 minute video, please click here.
With the completion of the Tabernacle the work of the creation of the world finally draws to a close. Moses blesses the work Israel has done, and now, the final piece in place, the world can begin! Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38).
Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
The Temple Institute
Saturday, March 05, 2011
Accounts of the Tabernacles
Posted by David Ben-Ariel at 2:57 PM