By: Herschel Karp (10th Grade)
In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Terumah, the Jews review the construction and materials necessary for the building of the Mishkan. This stems from Hashem’s command to Moshe, “You should build for Me a sanctuary and I shall dwell among them,” including everything from the Aharon in the Kodesh Hakodashim to the different vessels and utensils found in the Mishkan. Throughout the journey in the desert, and even later on in their early years of residing in Israel, the Jews used this Mishkan as a way to connect to Hashem.
Although the Mishkan was open to everyone, the Kohanim were the ones that would regularly perform the Avodah and sacrifices. To be a Kohen eligible for this holy job, one must be inspected to make sure they had no blemishes which would prevent them from performing the necessary jobs to maintain and run the Mishkan. After passing this inspection, the Kohen would make two brachot, “Blessed... that no blemish has been found in the seed of Aaron. Blessed is He who chose Aaron and his sons to stand to minister before the Lord in the Holy of Holies.” The first bracha makes sense; the Kohen is merely thanking Hashem that he had no blemish which would prevent him from serving in the Mishkan.
However, the second part of the blessing the Kohen makes is very strange. Why is the Kohen thanking Hashem for allowing him to serve in the Kodesh Hakodashim when it is only something that is done on Yom Kippur, and only by the Kohen Gadol?
To answer this question one must realize what the Kodesh Hakodashim really represents. This innermost room of the Mishkan was the home to the direct presence and Shechina of Hashem himself. It is said in the Torah that the Kodesh Hakodashim is where Hashem would reside, and thus, was exclusively off limits to anyone other than the Kohen Gadol on only one day the whole year. Even though the average Kohen was not directly involved with the shechinah, in the eyes of Hashem, it is still considered that he, through his normal avodah, can contribute to the drawing down of Hashem’s presence. This is why the Kohen would not only thank Hashem for not having blemishes, but also for the contributions he makes through his own personal job to Hashem’s presence in the Kodesh Hakodashim.
So too, davening, which is our modern equivalent of korbanot, as well as learning Torah, can help bring down Hashem’s divine presence. Even though in our state, we are detached from the essence of Hashem’s kedusha, meaning many times in our lives we might not see Hashem or necessarily feel a connection throughout our day to day performance of Mitzvot and learning Torah, we should know that through our efforts, we are steadily bringing down His presence into our world, until we reach a point where we can feel the shechinah in our daily lives. No matter how disconnected we feel, whether it is when we pray or even just daily occurrences we experience which can sometimes feel so detached from Hashem, we should know that through our means to come close to Hashem, like learning Torah or davening, we are directly bringing Hashem down into our world, and contributing to a more Godly and holy world, until Hashem’s full presence is revealed with the coming of mashiach.