Parshas Vayakhel-Torah Or-The mystical connection between the Mishkan and the command of Shabbos

This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer

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Parshas Vayakhel

Vayakhel Moshe

[Torah Or p. 172 ]

The portion of Vayakhel reiterates the commandments to the Jewish people regarding the building of the Mishkan. The detailed instructions of the Mishkan are repeated three times in the Torah: Once, regarding Hashem’s commandment to Moshe in Parshas Terumah, a second time, with Moshe’s commandments to the Jewish people in Parshas Vayakhel, and a third time regarding the actual building, also in Parshas Vayakhel. Some Mefarshim explain that the necessity behind this repetition is to emphasize the importance of the Mitzvah. However, there is one factor that still requires explanation. When Hashem initially commanded Moshe, He first began with the tapestries of the Mishkan, then with the vessels, and concluded with the observance of Shabbos. However, when Moshe relayed these commandments to the Jewish people, he gave them in the reverse order. First he commanded them about Shabbos, and then the tapestries of the Mishkan, and only then about the vessels of the Mishkan. What is the meaning behind this change from the order first given to Moshe by Hashem? What is the meaning behind approximating the Shabbos command to the commandments of the Mishkan? This leads to an interesting discussion on the meaning of the Mishkan in our day-to-day lives. Every Jew contains a personal Mishkan, complete with vessels and tapestries. Through fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos, one connects with his personal Tabernacle and makes use of its vessels. This, however, requires the help of Shabbos. Shabbos provides a Jew with an extra soul. What is this extra soul, and what are its functions and capabilities? Most people have enough trouble handling their own soul! What advantage is there in hosting another soul on Shabbos? In this Mamar, the Alter Rebbe delves into the meaning of the extra Shabbos soul and aids us in utilizing it to gain entrance into our personal sanctuary.

Explorations of the Mamar:

1.      Why did Moshe reverse the order of commandments of the Mishkan?

2.      Why were the Shabbos commandments approximated to the commandments of the Mishkan?

3.      What is the meaning and purpose of the extra soul received on Shabbos?

4.      How does each Jew contain a personal sanctuary, complete with vessels and tapestries?

The Question:

The verse states, Vayakhel Moshe Es Kol Adas Bnei Yisrael, that Moshe gathered the entire Jewish people and told them of the Mitzvah of Shabbos and followed with the commandments of the building of the Mishkan. This begs the question of what connection there is between the commandments of Shabbos and the Mishkan that would explain why they were commanded in proximity to each other. Furthermore, the original order in which Moshe was commanded by Hashem was first regarding the vessels of the Mishkan, then regarding the walls and tapestries of the Mishkan, and only then regarding Shabbos. Moshe, however, upon commanding the Jewish people, switched the order. First he commanded them about Shabbos, then the tapestries of the Mishkan, and only then about the vessels of the Mishkan. So why did Moshe switch the order of his commandments to Bnei Yisrael from the order of commandments that he was given? What is the meaning behind changing the order of the instructions given to Moshe by Hashem?


The spiritual Mishkan and Keilim within each soul:

The above can be explained by understanding the following verse: “Make for me a Temple and I will dwell in them.” The wording should have been, “And I will dwell in it”, so why does the Torah state in the plural, “Dwell in them?” This expression refers to the general souls of Israel and lets us know that Hashem resides within the souls of Israel just as He does within the Mishkan. Furthermore, even in exile, Hashem’s dwelling within Jewish souls can still be achieved through the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos. The Torah corresponds with the vessels of the Mishkan, while the Mitzvos correspond with the tapestries of the Mishkan. The reason for this is as follows: The tapestries served as curtains and surrounding tents around the Mishkan. Similarly, the Mitzvos serve as tapestries of the soul and its garments, as Mitzvos draw a Divine light that surrounds and encompasses the soul from one’s head to one’s feet. The Torah represents the vessels. Just as the vessels are the inner parts of the Mishkan, similarly learning Torah draws G-dliness into the inner parts of one’s soul, like food that is digested and internalized within the body. To understand this difference in the effects upon the soul, we must first introduce the difference between Soveiv and Mimalei.


Or Makkif and Or Penimi; Soveiv versus Mimalei:

The Sefirah of “Malchus of Atzilus” is responsible for drawing down two forms of G-dliness into the lower worlds in order to give them life and vitality. One is named Soveiv and the other is named Mimalei. In general, these revelations are referred to as Or/light. These are rays of G-dliness that radiate from Hashem, and are a revelation of His powers below. Just as G-d Himself is infinite, similarly these rays of revelation are likewise infinite. Due to this, it is not possible for these rays to serve as an internal life-force and vitality in creations that are limited and retain specific dimensions. Therefore, this Divine ray merely encompasses the creation in a manner called Soveiv Kol Almin and it does not enter into them internally. However, from this ray, after a successive form of contractions, comes a limited and contracted ray of G-dliness that can then be invested within the worlds and creations, allowing them nevertheless to retain their limited and defined boundaries. This internal light is called Mimalei Kol Almin.

The choice of the word Or:

Based on the above, it is understood why the word Or was chosen to describe the Divine revelations from Hashem. Aside for the reasons already mentioned elsewhere, one can also explain that just as light does not penetrate the object it shines on and merely encompasses it from the outside, similarly the Or Ein Sof does not penetrate the creations but encompasses them, as explained above.


The Soveiv and Mimalei of Torah and Mitzvos:

Just as there are two forms of Divine light that enliven the worlds, Soveiv and Mimalei, similarly there are two forms of Divine flow that become revealed below through our Avoda in Torah and Mitzvos. The Torah draws down the internal aspect called Mimalei, while the Mitzvos draw down the encompassing aspect called Soveiv. There are 248 positive commandments that correspond to the 248 Divine “limbs” of Atzilus. Just as a physical limb is a vessel that contains a particular aspect of revelation from the soul, i.e. the leg contains the soul power of walking, while the arm contains the soul power of action, similarly the supernal limbs of Atzilus are vessels that contain particular levels of G-dliness within them. Each Mitzvah corresponds to a different Supernal limb in Atzilus, and upon performing a particular Mitzvah one activates a revelation from its corresponding Divine limb. This revelation encompasses the soul rather than becoming internalized within it, as explained above. For example, when one wears a Tallis, he draws down from the Sefirah of Malchus to encompass his soul, as the Tallis represents Kabbalas Ol Malchus Shamayim. When one wears Tefillin, he draws down revelations from the level of supernal Chochmah upon his mind. However, this revelation does not penetrate the mind of the wearer, hence explaining the lack of conscious change. Rather, it merely encompasses the head. This process likewise applies to all of the Mitzvos.


The seven threads of the tapestries:

Based on the above, we can understand the connection between the tapestries and the Mitzvos. Just as the tapestries surrounded the Mishkan, similarly the Mitzvos draw down G-dliness that surrounds and garbs the soul. This also explains why there were specifically seven types of threads used to sew the tapestries of the Mishkan, as the Mitzvos are rooted in the seven Divine attributes of Atzilus, and in correspondence with this, the tapestries were made using seven types of threads.


The extra Shabbos soul:

Prior to explaining the level and effect of Torah, we must first introduce the level of Shabbos. The Sages state that on Shabbos, each person receives an extra soul. What is the meaning behind receiving a new soul on Shabbos? Do we feel any extra energy in our souls on Shabbos more than the rest of the week? During the week, in order to reach love for G-d one must contemplate how all is nullified before Him and come to an intellectual arousal of love. This love is based on reason and requires much toil in bringing about its revelation. On Shabbos, however, a much higher level of love for G-d is revealed; a level that is above reason and intellect in which one naturally feels an essential desire for G-d. This is called the Yechida of the Neshama. The cause of this revelation on Shabbos is that on Shabbos all the worlds are elevated to receive from a level even higher than Chochmah. During the week, all the creations receive from the level of Chochmah as it descends into the lower Sefiros, and as a result our love is based on intellect and the comprehension of Hashem’s interaction within the world. However, on Shabbos, all the spiritual levels are elevated to the level of Atik, which is Taanug, and is above and beyond Chochmah. Now, just as the worlds are elevated on Shabbos to receive from Atik, above Chochmah, so too our souls are elevated on Shabbos to receive from our soul level of Taanug, which is above our soul level of Chochmah. This level that is revealed on Shabbos is called our Yechida and is the extra soul that every Jew merits to receive on Shabbos as discussed by our Sages. Hence, in truth, the extra soul is not an external soul, of another person, but is really the higher level of our own soul that we have during the week. Accordingly, we can explain the inner meaning behind the statement in Kiddush: Veratzah Banu, as these words are a request to Hashem that we should merit to have our Yechida soul power revealed within our soul on Shabbos and merit hosting our Neshama Yiseira.


Preparing during the week to receive the extra Shabbos soul:

In order for a person be a receptacle for this higher form of love on Shabbos, he must prepare himself during the week through arousing his lower, intellectually based form of love. This lower love makes him a conduit to receive the higher love on Shabbos. This is why Shabbos is called Shabbos Shabbason, as it unifies both forms of love.

Drawing down the love on Shabbos into one’s weekday activities: One is able to draw down a ray of his Shabbos love experience into his weekday service. This is accomplished when one prays with love during the week. This weekday connection is called Chulin Al Taharas Kodesh.


The Torah-vessels of the Mishkan

Learning Torah has the unique capability of drawing down from above Atzilus, from the level of Ratzon Haelyon, into the level of Chochmah of Atzilus, which is called Ratzon Hatachton. Each one of the vessels in the Mishkan has a parallel with this accomplishment of Torah. The Torah is compared to light, Torah Or. The lighting of the Menorah represents the shining of the supernal Divine light that is above Atzilus, to below in Atzilus. The six branches of the Menorah correspond to the six Sidrei Mishneh, while the middle branch represents the written Torah from which each one of the branches stem, just like each seder of Mishneh derives from the written Torah. The Aron corresponds to the Torah, as the Aron contained the Luchos. However, the level of the Torah represented by the Aron is the original, sublime spiritual root of the Torah, which transcends the level represented by the Menorah and the Torah of today. The Showbread table also corresponds to the Torah, as the Torah is called “bread”. Just as bread satiates the body, Torah is internalized and satiates the soul.


A parable:

For a relationship to last and endure in a healthy manner, it requires constant upkeep by the two partners involved. The aspects that solidify and guard the relationship can be split in two: the constant acts expected to be performed by each partner on behalf of the relationship and the verbal bond that they share. For example, for a marriage to be stable, the husband and wife must each contribute to the home. The husband works to provide an income, while the wife maintains the home and all of its necessities. If the husband or wife ends their contribution, it can cause serious instability in the home. Nonetheless, the contributions to the home by each partner do not create any extra love or excitement in their relationship; they simply guarantee its stability and the possibility for the feelings to come. The feelings shared between the spouses can only be aroused through spending quality time together, talking and sharing experiences, thoughts and care. Couples that have a stable home but do not share quality time can find themselves drifting far apart before they even notice. The above parable is similar in one respect to the relationship between a Jew and Hashem and his fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos. The Mitzvos are similar to the contributions that each spouse brings to the relationship, making it stable although not resulting in the creation of any internalized feeling due to it. Torah learning, however, is akin to speaking with Hashem and is able to arouse those feelings of love for Hashem, signifying the conscious quality time spent between spouses.


Understanding the order of the commandments from Hashem to Moshe and Moshe to the Jewish people:

Based on the above, one can now understand the difference in the order of the commandments by Moshe to the Bnei Yisrael from the order of the commandments that he was given by Hashem, as well as the connection between the Mishkan and the Shabbos laws. In order to draw down the Divine light of Makkif from the Mitzvos and the Divine light of Penimi/Mimalei from the Torah, one must first elevate his soul to the level of Yechida, which is revealed on Shabbos. This revelation of the Yechida on Shabbos, which is the extra soul, gives one the ability to be able to draw down the G-dly lights through his service of Torah and Mitzvos. One must, however, first draw down the Makkif and only then can he draw down the Penimi, as the G-dliness of the Penimi comes as a result of the Makkif’s contractions, and the Makkif must first exist and be revealed prior to the Penimi. This is also the internal reason why one cannot say Shema without Tefillin, as Shema is the Penimi, while Tefillin is the Makkif and one cannot draw down the Penimi without first having Makkif. Thus, the order of commandments that Moshe relayed to the Jewish people followed the chronological order of actions that must be taken to ensure the revelations. One must first receive the extra soul of Shabbos, and then he can draw down the Makkif through Mitzvos, followed by drawing down the Penimi through Torah. For this reason, Moshe first commanded Shabbos, and then the tapestries [Makkif], followed by the vessels of the Mishkan [Penimi/Mimalei]. However, when Hashem commanded Moshe, He reversed the order, as He wanted to inform him of the lower revelations and work up to the higher ones. As such, He first commanded regarding the vessels, which are the Penimi, and then regarding the tapestries, which are the Makkif, and only then regarding Shabbos, which is the extra soul of the Yechida.



Lessons of the Mamar:

·         Shabbos is a day of rest on which we have time to host a special guest that we do not receive during the week. This “guest” is the extra soul we receive on Shabbos, and is the Yechida aspect of our very own Neshama. Spend extra time on Shabbos in devout prayer to help nurture this extra soul and bring it into revelation.

·         Learning Torah and performing Mitzvos each have their distinct effects in our relationship with Hashem. While Mitzvos solidify our relationship and draw us into an embracing and encompassing bond with Hashem, learning Torah internally unites us by penetrating into our very souls.


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