We all have different ways to connect. Although I come from a secular background where Judaism was my nationality, every day I enjoy learning about my roots, background, faith, and culture. In the former Soviet Union, on our passport it said Hebrew, which is the translation of Jew. My parents were blank slates because any tradition or religion was illegal.
I have always been spiritually connected to the flow of the universe and trusting my gut. As I keep learning, I am fascinated about deep explanations and how my faith is about living fully, and expressing my purpose in this life.
Today on the Jewish calendar is my daughter’s Hebrew birthday, Chaf Bet Adar. I love to connect to how our ancestors celebrated and blessed each other for health, success, and love.
Below are some deep explanations of this weeks Parsha,
It is the lesson of the week that we read from the Torah.
Everything is connected.
We grow in our own connection.
I love to connect.
Now it is time to disconnect,
This Shabbat we conclude our reading of Sefer Shmot with the double parshiot of Vayakhel-Pekudei which focus on the building of the Mishkan.
Though the Mishkan was meant to be a place of divine worship within the Israelite camp, the Rabbis of the Midrash explored the symbolism of the Mishkan, and through their interpretation three major themes emerge which I believe can teach us a major lesson about how we find G-d in this world.
1. According to the Midrash Tanchuma the Mishkan symbolized the creation of the universe, and this conclusion is drawn from the many literary parallels that exist between the creation story and the instructions concerning the construction of the Mishkan. According to this approach, the construction of the Mishkan teaches us that we can create mini-universes in this world through emulating the ways of G-d and through building institutions where G-d’s presence can be felt.
2. A different approach is offered by the Midrash Hagadol which explains how the Mishkan symbolizes the Torah. ‘The ten multi-coloured tapestries, in two groups of five, represented the Ten Commandments etc.’. According to this explanation, the Mishkan is a symbolic representation of the Torah, and just as the Mishkan was glorious, inspiring, and served to bring the Jewish people together, so too should Torah.
3. A third explanation, also found in the Midrash Hagadol, suggests that each element of the Mishkan represents different parts of the human being. ‘the Gold [used in the Mishkan represents] the soul, silver – the body, copper – the voice, blue – the veins etc.’ According to this explanation, the Mishkan symbolizes how we should see the divine essence within each human being.
Expressed differently, the first explanation teaches us that we can find G-d in Creation; the second teaches us that we can find G-d through Revelation, and the third teaches us that we can find G-d through the acts of kindness that we perform to other people – or what Rabbi Sacks refers to as ‘Redemption’.
Clearly, each of these are incredibly important themes in Judaism. However, there is one day of the week when we can dwell on all three of these themes, and it this day which directly connects us to the Mishkan.
As we know there is a deep connection between Shabbat and the Mishkan. We are taught that the acts necessary for the construction of the Mishkan (ie. the 39 melachot) are those same acts that cannot be performed on Shabbat. But beyond this, a closer look at our Shabbat prayers show how all three of these themes are expressed on Shabbat.
The Tur (Orach Chaim 292) explains that the Amidah that we recite on a Friday night refers to G-d as creator of the universe; the Amidah that we recite on a Shabbat morning refers to the Revelation of the Torah, and the Amidah that we recite on Shabbat afternoon refers to the end of days when the ultimate redemption will come. From here we learn that by reflecting on our Shabbat prayers and by adhering to the laws of Shabbat we can, in a very deep way, construct a spiritual Mishkan within ourselves.
Ultimately, every day we should look for opportunities to connect with G-d through Creation, Revelation & Redemption, but specifically it is on Shabbat when we are most able to do so.
It is on Shabbat when our home transforms into a mini-universe where G-d’s presence is more powerfully felt. It is on Shabbat when we have the time to learn Torah and hear the word of God, and it is on Shabbat when we make a little more time for one another and, in doing so, catch a greater glimpse of the divine essence of each other. So by maximising the spiritual potential of Shabbat, we can maximise our own spiritual potential.