Parshas Pekudei-Torah Or-The purpose of building the Mishkan

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Parshas Pekudei

Eileh Pekudei Hamishkan…”

Likkutei Torah p. 3

Parshas Pekudei discusses the building of the Mishkan. While the previous Parshiyos discuss the commandments associated with the construction of the Mishkan and its subsequent building donations, this week’s Parsha describes the actual building process. Why did the Torah feel the need to discuss the Mishkan at length and detail in so many different forms? The Mitzvah of building the Mishkan spreads between four different Parshiyos; Teruma, Tetzaveh, Vayakhel, and Pekudei, and includes the commandments given by Hashem to Moshe, the relating of these commandments by Moshe to the Jewish people, the donations given by the people, and the use of these donations in the building of the Mishkan. Each time that the above matters are related, they are written in full length and detail. This matter stands out as peculiar, being that in all other areas of the Torah we do not find such detailed discussion on the topic of a single Mitzvah. One must conclude that the discussion surrounding the Mishkan is a most essential matter that highlights the epitome of the Torah and Mitzvos, for which reason it is given such a central position of discussion in the Torah. In fact, the Mitzvah of building the Mishkan not only touches on a most central point of our service of G-d, but is the fulfillment of the entire purpose of Creation and the purpose of fulfillment of all the other commands of the Torah. Throughout the ages, scholars, philosophers, and Sages have pondered the reason behind Creation and the purpose of life. In Jewish sources, we also find various attempts to answer this question, with a variety of suggestions being given. These include: To benefit mankind[1]; to receive reward in Olam Habah and receive pleasure from the ray of the Shechina[2]; to know G-d[3]; for King Moshiach[4]. One of these suggestions is that the world was created for the purpose of making Hashem a dwelling place below in this world, otherwise known as a Dirah Betachtonim. This means that the purpose of Creation is to invite Hashem into a world where His presence is currently not openly revealed. The Chassidic masters revealed that this is not just another reason given for Creation, but is the central reason and purpose behind it, to which all the other reasons mentioned are secondary  and complementary, referring to different stages of its fulfillment.

 

 

Explorations of Excerpts:

  1. What is so important about the building of the Mishkan that the Torah lengthens the discussion on it to more than four Parshiyos?
  2. What is the purpose of Creation?
  3. What does it mean to make G-d a dwelling place in this world, if in any event there is no place that is devoid of Him?
  4. How does one bring Hashem to dwell below? What uniqueness is contained in Torah and Mitzvos that brings the Shechina to reside below in this world?

 

 

The purpose of the Mishkan:

The purpose of the Mishkan is for the Shechina to reside amongst the Jewish people, as the verse states: “Veshachanti Besocham/And I will dwell within them,” and as it states: [Yirmiyahu 7/4] “They are the Heichal of Hashem.” This follows the dictum of the Sages[5]: “At the time when Hashem created the world, He desired to have a dwelling place in the lower realms, just as He has in the higher realms.” It however remains to be explained as to why Hashem needs us to make Him a dwelling place below, if in any event He is omnipotent, not subject to space or time, and is hence found everywhere at all times, as the verse states: “I fill the Heavens and the earth.” What can we possibly further add to Hashem’s current state of presence by making Him a Mishkan?  To explain this, we must first introduce the reason why our world was specifically chosen for this desire of Hashem.

 

Why specifically our world, and what it means to make G-d a dwelling place:

The meaning behind making a dwelling place for Hashem is to reveal His light in the world, that G-dliness be revealed in the lower realms. [Just as in one’s home, a person is relaxed and comfortable, revealing his natural state, similarly our job is to invite Hashem into this world and make it His home in which He can reveal His natural self to us, the inhabitants.] This dwelling place in which Hashem reveals Himself is specifically relevant to this lower world. The meaning behind “the lower realms” is not in reference to space, as Hashem is not within the bounds of space, but rather is in reference to spiritual level. This physical world is on the lowest level world of spiritual gradation. It is the end and culmination of all the chains of worlds that exist in the orderly sphere of worlds called Seder Hishtalshilus. This world has the least revelation of spirituality and has the most difficult challenges in comprehending Hashem. The comprehension of G-dliness in this world is much concealed and is greatly contracted. Spiritual darkness covers the earth and allows for spiritual confusion and heresy. Hashem desired to have a dwelling place specifically in this level of world, that this world specifically should become a place where He would live and be revealed and brighten the darkness with His light. Of course, Hashem is found in all areas, including this world. However, His presence within the inhabitants of this world is not felt. This is the meaning of making a dwelling place for G-d, to reveal Him in this world in a way that He is seen and felt by us, the inhabitants, similar to the way He is seen and felt by the souls and angels of the spiritual worlds. Furthermore, the revelation that Hashem desired to have in this world far surpasses His current revelation in the spiritual worlds, as in all the worlds that are higher than this world, only a glimmer of Hashem’s essence is revealed to its inhabitants, while in this world Hashem desired to be revealed in His entirety. His actual essence will dwell below and not just a mere ray. It is due to this that the Sages state in Pirkei Avos: “One moment of Teshuvah and good deeds in this world is better than all of the experience in Gan Eden,” as in this world we get to experience the essence of Hashem, as opposed to a mere glimmer of His presence that is experienced in Gan Eden.

 

The purpose of the dwelling is to dwell within the Jewish people:[6]

The desire of Hashem to dwell below in this world is not just that the physical world reveals Him, but that He should dwell and become revealed within the Jewish people. The entire purpose of Creation is for the sake of the Jewish people, and the true purpose of the Dirah Betachtaonim is for Hashem to bring His presence to dwell within the Jewish people as they are found in this physical world. [The Jewish people in this world are not just building Hashem’s palace for Him to come and dwell when it is ready, but are also adorning themselves as Hashem’s bride, which will live together with Hashem, similar to the union of a husband and wife, within the palace that we are building.] This is why the verse states “Veshachanti Besocham/And He shall dwell within them,” and not and He shall dwell within it, as the true purpose is to dwell within “them”- meaning the Jewish souls as they are invested within the Jewish body.

 

How does one achieve building a Dirah for Hashem-The Avoda of Iskafya:

The method through which one accomplishes making Hashem a dwelling place below is through keeping Torah and Mitzvos. The Torah and Mitzvos contain within them the service of Iskafya and Is’hapcha. Iskafya is the service of subjugating evil; repelling urges and desires for physical pleasures and wants in face of the will of Hashem. Is’hapcha is the service of using the items that conceal G-d for the purpose of serving Him. It is this service of Iskafya and Is’hapcha contained within the Mitzvos that draws down the dwelling of Hashem, and His revelation below. This matter is stated in the Zohar as, “Upon one subjugating the Sitra Achra/side of evil, the glory of Hashem rises above them all.” This means that when one performs Iskafya, this reveals the very highest level of G-dliness, and when one then performs the service of Is’hapcha it causes this revelation to reside in the lower realms. One first has to perform the service of Iskafya and he can then perform the service of Is’hapcha. In general, the service of Iskafya is to refrain from transgressing any of the negative commands while the service of Is’hapcha is to use the physical objects of the world in order to fulfill the Mitzvos. However, in truth the service of Iskafya and Is’hapcha reaches a lot deeper than one’s physical activities and penetrates one’s very senses and the core of his personality.

 

Iskafya encompasses all five senses:

The service of Iskafya involves all of one’s five senses, and is not just limited to the physical fulfillment of the Mitzvos. One is required to control and withhold his sense of sight, preventing himself from seeing evil by closing his eyes when the opportunity of seeing evil is presented; closing one’s ears when the opportunity of hearing evil is presented, and so on and so forth with all of one’s senses, including one’s powers of thought, speech, and action. It also applies to one’s character traits, with which one is to sanctify himself even amongst those matters that are permitted. This service of Iskafya leads to the service of Is’hapcha, as it makes his five senses and his thought process become a receptacle for Hashem, for the revelation of Hashem’s infinite light.

 

The main purpose of each Mitzvah is the Iskafya and Is’hapcha it contains:[7]

The hidden intent within each of the Mitzvos is the Iskafya that one performs in the process of its fulfillment. Hashem’s main intent for the Mitzvos is for one to overcome a lust or challenge that he has and go above and beyond his natural reasoning and perform the Mitzvah. This is what gives Hashem the great pleasure that causes His glory to be revealed above all the worlds. Take, for example, the Mitzvah of Tzedaka. One who only gives Tzedaka after all of his expenses and desires are taken care of and now has extra money to spend is not truly fulfilling the inner intent of the Mitzvah. The inner intent of the Mitzvah is for one to distribute money that he would have used for his own benefit and instead use it to give charity to the pauper. This act of giving is a true subjugation of his inclination, and it fulfills the true intent of the Mitzvah. The same applies to all the other commands. The Rebbe would advise people that wrote to him of difficulties in their financial situation that they should specifically distribute more charity now, as this is the most opportune time to fulfill this Mitzvah and receive its promise of financial security from Hashem.

Lessons of the Mamar:

·         We, the Jewish people, are workers of Hashem who have been contracted to build Him a dwelling place below. However, we are not similar to a regular contractor who leaves the palace and walks off with his reward, but are similar to Hashem’s bride, who is building her groom a home that they will live in together.

·         The main purpose of the Mitzvos is the subjugation of one’s inclination. When you specifically have challenges and feelings of persuasion against fulfilling a Mitzvah, this is the most opportune time to fulfill it.

 


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[1]Teva Hatov Liheitiv”; Emek Hamelech 1

[2] Mesilas Yesharim 1

[3] Eitz Chaim in beginning; Tanya chapter 44

[4] Sanhedrin 98b

[5] Tanchuma Sisa 16

[6] This excerpt is taken from Likkutei Torah Kedoshim 29b; See also Torah Or MishpatimVayiru Es Elokei Yisrael

[7] Sefer Hamamarim, Rebbe Rayatz

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