Weekly Torah Commentary — March 2, 2012 Tetzaveh

This week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, brings to the forefront something very special about Hashem’s relationship with His people. Throughout the centuries, discussion has abounded as to why Hashem created the world in the first place. A key phrase to answer that question was found in last week’s parsha, “They will make for Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.” The Midrash, commenting on this verse, says “G-d had a passion to have for Himself a dwelling place in the lower world.”
(Naso 16)

With this in mind, we can look at the Tabernacle as a fulfillment of Hashem’s ‘passion’ to have a dwelling place on this earth among His chosen people. In commanding the building of the Tabernacle, Hashem provided Himself with a place, a location, where He could be approached and tangibly experienced by the people, and on the other hand, a place where in a mysterious way, He could approach and experience His creation. That, in essence, was the purpose for the Tabernacle and for the Temples. They were designed to be meeting places between G-d and man. The physical structures and the services performed within them were ultimately meant to be a visible reminder, a symbol of the sanctuary He desired to be built within each human being, body and soul, mind and heart. When this is accomplished, the entire purpose of creation will be fulfilled. Then will the “knowledge of Hashem cover the earth like the waters cover the sea…”

World religions and philosophies in general tend to lean in one of two ways. Some place enormous emphasis on the earthly and the here and now; others seek to obscure the present creation with great emphasis on the hereafter, the world to come. In simple terms, some are so earthly-minded, they are no heavenly good and others are so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good.

The Tabernacle is meant, among other things, to teach us to strive for balance in our life, to combine heaven and earth into a beautiful harmony. It is our job to embrace, appreciate and enjoy Hashem’s creation on this earth with gratitude and to sanctify this creation that it may bring honor to Him. It is just as much our job to anticipate with joy the inestimable pleasures of His presence in the World to Come. It is written in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that “This world is like a lobby before the World to Come. Prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall.” 4:16

Each day is a gift to be used for uniting heaven and earth in whatever way we can during that day.
Hashem’s presence in the world is enhanced as we do so.

In Tune with Torah this week = elevating even the most mundane thing we do by doing it with joy as our service to Hashem, that His creation reflect His goodness a little bit more today because of how I go about my daily life. This is how you and I participate in seeing His passion realized – a dwelling place for Him in the lower world. May it be so for all of us.

Shabbat Shalom!

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