This week’s Parsha, Parshat Terumah, discusses the details of building the Mishkan in great depth. Hashem has a very particular blueprint for the Israelites to follow, and the descriptions of the numerous elements of the Mishkan are very elaborate. This dwelling for Hashem is supposed to have gold on the outside and inside, be made of acacia wood, blue cloth, red purple cloth, silver, and many other rare and exotic materials. Hashem was counting on Bnei Yisrael. They wanted to please Hashem so much that they would do the best they could to follow his exact directions.
The concept of the Mishkan arouses many questions. Why do we need a material place for Hashem to dwell if Hashem is not a physical being? Why did the Jews have to go through and follow all of these instructions for Hashem?
My answer at first was that we use our senses to experience things: we love smelling the delicious fresh-baked challah on Friday night; seeing the Shabbat candles burning; tasting the Kiddush wine; and hearing the beautiful melody of L’cha Dodi during Kabbalat Shabbat. Using our physical senses, we can connect to Hashem, who is not exactly someone we can touch and see. Sure, we know that Hashem is in everything from the smallest raindrop to the biggest whale, but that is His essence, not exactly Him. Therefore, we need a place in which we use what we can- our senses- for Hashem to dwell. Not necessarily a big flashy display over a building that says “Hashem Dwells Here!” but maybe in a community or in Bnei Yisroel as a whole.
So, where exactly does Hashem dwell? R’ Sa’adia Gaon , a commentator from the 10th century, said, “There is no place without G-d,” meaning that Hashem is everywhere. If so, then why build sanctuaries in specific places, if Hashem is everywhere anyways?
Pinchas Peli said “The mikdash was not a dwelling place for G-d but a place set aside for people to come experience more intensely the presence of G-d in the world at large. It represented a way of re-creating the universe, in the center of which is G-d.”
The Mishkan was a microcosm of the universe, where Hashem was in the center, just like the real world. Humans tend to want something tangible to hold onto and value, so we want a physical reminder of Hashem. This is exactly what the mishkan gave us; a way to connect with Hashem on a tangible level.
By: Eden Grosz (10th Grade)