Everything that applies to the Temple or the Tabernacle also applies to us. For we are a Temple, as explained many times in previous lessons, for it says (Ex 25:8):
“Let them make me a Sanctuary so that I may dwell among them; i.e. within them”. The Nefesh haKhayim says that If man sanctifies himself appropriately… then he is literally a Mishkan and the Shekhinah rests within him; as it is written, “The Sanctuary of HaShem are they” (Jer 7:4).
The Torah calls the Tabernacle that Israel made in the desert by three different names, each one concealing a deeper meaning: Miqdash, Mishkan and Ohel Moed:
- Miqdash (literally: Sanctuary), comes from the word Qadash (to consecrate) or Qedusha (holiness). Why? Because the purpose of the construction was only to build a special place, a place that is consecrated for the Divine Service. Its purpose was no other than to sanctify some tools that are apparently secular, from the world, such as wood or metal and turn them into something that would be a channel to our connection with God. So this represents us trying to reach God, from below to above.
- Mishkan (literally: Tabernacle) comes from the word Shakan (lodging, dwelling). And this is the meaning, for once we build a Sanctuary, a consecrated place, God’s Divine Presence dwells in it, He dwells among us and within us. As it’s written “for the glory of HaShem filled the Mishkan” (Ex 40:34). So this represents God reaching us, from above to below.
- Ohel Moed (literally: Tent of Meeting, or Tent of Congregation). It’s the middle point of the Meeting between us and HaShem. We do our job, HaShem does his job, and then the general result is the Tent of Meeting. Onkelos understands the word “Moed” in the sense of Time and season, so he renders Ohel Moed as “Temporary Tabernacle” (Mishkan Zimna). Because all of this is just a journey into a better place. This wild life we are living now is just a means to a goal. Sometimes we camp in a place of bitter water, sometimes in a place with no water at all, sometimes we camp in a place of war, and sometimes in a place of anger, but in every place we camp, we must raise our Tent of Meeting with HaShem. Sometimes we don’t have bread to eat, but we must have Emunah (Faith and fidelity), that everything happens by God’s will, whether we understand it or not. This is the Temporary Tabernacle, whose purpose is no other than to bring us to the place where God has put His Name, and to build there a Permanent Sanctuary. So if your Tent of Meeting has been put down, this doesn’t mean you have to stay in that place and die, but you must walk to the next journey and put the Tent up again.
“According to all that HaShem commanded to Moshe, so the children of Israel made all the work”
This refers to the completion of all the items in the Tabernacle, which is done by the entire community of Israel. As it’s written:
“And they came, every man whose heart stirred him up, and everyone whose spirit inspired him to, generously brought the offering of HaShem for the work of the Tent of Meeting…”
Those who had silver brought silver, those who had copper brought copper, those who had acacia wood brought acacia wood (cf. Ex 35:24). Every person brings to God’s service what he has.
There are many that honestly put so much effort in their service to God, trying their best in all things so that they will be always connected with HaShem, yet HaShem puts circumstances in their lives that don’t allow them to grow in the measure they’d like to in order to “please” the voices they hear around.
Because honestly, there are people out there, Jewish people, even Rabbis, that can only see the bad part of all things. They spend their lives complaining on how other people are not in “their” level of observance. That woman is not religious, that man doesn’t wear Kippah, his wife is a gentile, that guy ate something that is not kosher, that person cannot speak Hebrew, that guy doesn’t wear Tzitzit, he doesn’t attend Yeshiva, that man speaks of Yeshu, that dude learnt Kabbalah and he’s not even 40 years old yet, etc etc…. You name it, you have it. These people exist in the religious world. And they are wise in their own eyes. They don’t even realize they are doing the work of Satan, because that’s actually Satan’s work, finding the bad part of each person, so they are putting themselves on the side of Judgment, fighting with everyone. That’s not the way a Jew is supposed to serve HaShem, that’s Satan’s Avodat HaShem, it’s his job to put people in the Heavenly Court, but that’s not our work here.
You must purify yourself, you must work on your Middot (your attributes), that’s the part of building the Miqdash, and when you have a proper vessel for the Light of HaShem to enter (That’s the Mishkan), then you’ll meet with all your brothers and sisters (that’s the Ohel Moed) and you are going to see only kindness (Rakhamim), as the sages taught: Judge each person favorably, from the side of Rakhamim.
Because HaShem sees things that an arrogant person cannot see. What If this man doesn’t wear Kippah because it is dangerous for him or for his family to actually wear one in public? What if that one hides his Tzitzit inside the clothes in modesty, and yet you are judging him by saying he doesn’t wear Tzitzit? What If a Jew made Repentance, (became a Baal Tshuva) after having already married a gentile? Why are you judging his new heart by something he did before repenting? What if this Baal Teshuva is over-flooded with a lot of new rules that he thought he could bear but right now are making him feel uncomfortable and therefore decided to take the Hallakhot in small quantities, one at a time? What If someone speaks of Yeshu because actually, it is because of Yeshu that this person came to know about Torah, God and Mitzvot, and he’s so thankful that his understanding of Yeshu led him to this path and he knows for a fact that turning darkness into Light, meaning, by giving a Kosher interpretation of Yeshu’s teaching can lead many other thousands of people under the wings of the Shekhina? As it is taught:
‘There is a way that everything can be turned to good” (Alim LiTerufah 114).
Yet you are judging him as an idolater, even when that’s far from being the case. Pirqei Avot says: Judge every person favorably, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains in his commentary on Pirqei Avot that this sentence was said concerning “That Man” (meaning Yeshu).
So these are the lame, the blind, the sick and the poor of the religious society. They are doing all of their best, putting all of their effort to be in harmony with God, with a pure heart, with all of their best intention and with all the suffering that comes with it, yet they are rejected by the elite, they are being judged for non important issues, for ridiculous reasons, or for things they are lacking in their observance, such as not knowing how to pray the Amidah in Hebrew,, that’s why they are poor.
Yet there are others that have a religious life by the book. They get up in the morning doing the Netilat Yadaim, praying the Shema, the Amidah, going to the Shul, to the Mikveh, to be in religious purity all the time, and in this sense they are rich… but this life has become their routine and now their heart is filled with pride, even though they are not aware of it, and the Yetzer haRa has made them forget the thing that matters most, which is an honest connection with God through Emunah (through Faith and fidelity) and a pure love for their neighbor.
There’s a famous parable, of two men who went to pray together, one of them was an Orthodox, and the other one was a secular who worked for the government. The Orthodox one stood up and prayed about himself: HaShem, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this man working for the government. I fast often and give Tzedaqah (charity).
The secular Jew stood at the distance. He would not even look up to heaven, and he cried, ‘God, have mercy of me, I’m a sinner’.
Who of them was justified before HaShem?
The Rebbe Nahman of Breslev says that “the poor man of humble spirit, even though he doesn’t give charity, he is better than a prideful rich man, even though he gives charity” (sefer haMiddot Ga’ava 31).
Listen, it doesn’t matter at which point you are right now. In which camping you are, as long as you still working on completing the journey. You have to be a man of truth, you must realize at which point you are in your relationship with HaShem. A person that has only copper cannot claim to have gold, because God doesn’t want that. He wants you to contribute in the construction of the Sanctuary with what you have. If you have copper, then you have copper, and it’s ok, as long as you are loyal to your inner truth. If you are honest in your service to HaShem and say: HaShem, right now, because of my circumstances I can only do these Mitzvot, I know is not perfect, but I do it with all my Kavanah (with all my intention on it), God will be pleased with it. If you are honest, you want to obey God, even you are not at that point yet, but you want to be. Obviously God’s will is known by studying passionately the Torah and the Hallakha, with the intention to obey as much as you can in your position. You must be ready to be rebuked as well, because even Satan is sent by God’s will and all those voices are sent to you in order to correct your path and lead you to perfection.
Concerning those who think they have reached some kind of perfection by their study and observance, maybe, just maybe, should stop for a second and listen to their inner self. Is their life based on love and connection, or is their life based on doing the job of Satan? Are they really in connection with God, or all of these rules they obey are done in order to be accepted by the mainstream community? Is their work Lishma (for God’s sake) or Lo-Lishna (not for God’s sake)? Is their fanatical approach to Orthodox observance leading them astray from a real connection with God? Is their fanatical connection with God hurting those who are willing and trying to come under the wings of the Shekhina? Each one should know their own heart on this.
Rebbe Nahman taught that,
“Messiah is not coming until all the arrogance in the world ceases” (Sefer haMiddot Ga’avah 1).
Arrogance is not making people see properly. Of course, being a perfect observant is meritorious and is a great thing to be, and understanding that not everyone is at the same level is equally important. Some people are broken outside but their lamp inside is still lit; they are fighting to rebuild what is fallen. Other people are perfect outside, but inside there’s nothing holy; they are like white pitchers full of ashes (cf. Berakhot 28a). Ultimately, the Messianic consciousness is not attained by a meticulous observance of all the little details of the visible Mitzvot. The Sanctuary is built both outside and inside, and in the depths of the inner part there’s the real consecrated place where the real connection with God begins, that’s called the Qodesh Qodashim (the holy of holies, the most sacred place). Only your inner high priest is able to enter here, and only in a state of Repentance.
– Xus Casal 2016