by Rabbi Dovid Green
We come to the end of The Book of Exodus this week. This marks the closing
of the building of the Mishkan/Tabernacle. At the beginning of the
commandment to build the Tabernacle the Torah states "And they'll make me a
sanctuary and I'll dwell among them." It doesn't state "and I'll dwell in
it," but, "and I'll dwell among them (the ones who made it). The Jewish
people themselves become the vehicle for the divine presence to dwell in
this world. What is implied is that the Jew him/herself becomes a sanctuary.
How can a human being achieve such greatness?
There is much in the Torah about maintaining the sanctity of the Tabernacle.
The same applies to the Jewish person. We have mentioned in the past that
the Torah has a unique approach to the concept of holiness. The Torah
advocates partaking of the physical world, but using it as a means to an
end. Animals also partake of the physical world. Only the human being can
uplift his/her actions and make them unique and purposeful, thereby
distinguishing his/herself from animals. Living on the level that one
participates in the world on a physical level, with all of the pleasures the
world has to offer, but using it as a vehicle for service of G-d, is true
The last verse in the Book of Exodus is "For the divine pillar of cloud was
over the Tabernacle by day, and fire would be on it by night, in front of
the Children of Israel, through all of their travels" (Exodus 40:38). The
divine presence manifested itself at all times upon the Tabernacle by day
and by night. The same is true of someone who achieves true holiness. The
divine presence rests upon such a person at all times.
Our forefathers in the Torah are a paradigm for all of the generations of
their children. Every generation, as well as every individual, experiences
the journeys of our forefathers in the wilderness. Our journeys are unique
to us, but similar in nature. We have our high points, as well as great
difficulties and low points. One who holds fast to the commitment of living
life with a lofty goal, and maintaining a direction, remains consistent
through all the the many changes we encounter. This person is traveling
through life with the Divine Presence resting upon him/her. G-d's presence
stands guard over him/her paving the way through the rough terrain of life.
We are capable of being great people. It starts with making a commitment to
improving. We understand that we have a purpose in this world, and set goals
to achieve them. Then, G-d will bring us close and help us. May we merit to
be the vehicle through which G-d manifests His presence in this world.
Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.