It Will Be Fixed, Part III
By Rabbi Aron Tendler
The Mishkan was a direct response to the sin of the Golden Calf. (The
Parsha we will study in two weeks.) The Jews sinned with the Golden Calf;
therefore, G-d commanded them to build a sanctuary. The sanctuary would be
the one place on earth unchanged by the sin of the Golden Calf and worthy
of housing G-d's manifest presence. As we explained in last week's
Rabbi's Notebook, the Jewish mission was to affect world redemption, not
just Jewish freedom. The 210 years in Egypt allowed the family of Yakov to
grow into a nation. The purpose of the Exodus was for the nation to
receive the Torah. The Torah is the manual of G-d's wishes and it is the
Chosen People's obligation to study the manual and teach the other
nations what their responsibilities are in relation to G-d. The method of
teaching is primarily by example. Therefore, the Jewish nation must live
exemplary lives founded on the principles of the Torah and focused on
facilitating Tikun Olam (fixing the world ≠ redemption) for the entire world.
Prior to the sin of the Golden Calf each Jew was a living example of what
it meant to have been created in the image of G-d. To be created in the
image of the G-d is to be able to emulate G-d's actions. To the extent
that the Jew follows the Torah is the extent to which the Jew emulates
G-d. In essence, there was no reason for a Mishkan - sanctuary to contain
G-d's presence. G-d truly resided within the hearts and beings of the
Jewish people. Wherever a Jew was, G-d should have been self-evident;
however, because of the sin of the Golden Calf, G-d withdrew from within
the beings of every Jew and secreted Himself behind the facade of nature.
G-d did not destroy the Jewish nation because they sinned with the Golden
Calf; instead, He allowed Moshe to persuade Him to give them a second
chance. It was a second chance for the Jews to become the nation that
after receiving the Torah and adhering to its laws would teach the other
nations what their responsibilities were and affect Tikun Olam ≠ world
The fundamental difference between before the sin of the Golden Calf and
after the sin of the Golden Calf was indicated when G-d commanded Moshe to
quarry his own tablets and ascend the mountain. "Quarry for yourself two
stone tablets." The first Luchos (tablets) were fashio
The difference between the first and second Luchos is the degree of active
human involvement. The verse in Tehilim (Psalms) says, "G-d created me
with a pure heart and a proper spirit." Rav Dessler explains that Torah
≠ G-d's wisdom ≠ G-d's law ‚
The desired method is for an individual to accept the Torah directly into
his heart and by-pass the "why" process. Rav Dessler did not mean that
Torah would be miraculously coded into the soul of a person. The
individual would still have to understand what was being taught; however,
it would not require any other intellectualization. Acceptance and
adherence would be automatic.
Rav Dessler gives the example of G-d teaching Moshe the entire Torah in 40
days. Given the unlimited quality and quantity of the Torah it is
impossible to study the entire Torah in a limited amount of time. The
Medresh even states that Moshe was unable to understand and remember what
G-d had taught him. Therefore, the entire Torah was gifted to Moshe. It
bypassed the "Why" process because the pure heart is able to bypass
the Why process. Before the sin of the Golden Calf the Jews were on the
level of the "pure heart." (The meaning of Naaseh V'Nishmah)
Moshe's intended method of teaching would have been exactly as the Jews
demanded, "You speak to us and we will hear.
The first set of Luchos was predicated on the preferred method of
learning. Just as Moshe was gifted the Torah so too the Jews would have
been gifted the Torah. All they would have needed to do is willingly
listen and accept. Reason and rational would have been irrelevant.
Furthermore, the same way they would have learned is the same way they
would have taught. Reason and rational would not have been necessary for
teaching the rest of the world and affecting Tikun Olam. All the Jews
would have had to do is act in accord with the Mitzvos. The rest of the
world would have seen the manner of their lifestyle and would have
accepted to do the same. Reason and rational would have been irrelevant.
They would have seen proof of its veracity in the manner that the Torah
was being performed. "Why" would have been irrelevant.
Following the sin of the Golden Calf the Jews were no longer on the level
of the "pure heart." They had once again demanded to eat from the Tree
of Knowledge. Simply knowing that it was or was not the will of G-d was
not enough. They needed to know why. Therefore, the preferred method for
teaching could no longer work. Instead, Moshe had to fashion his own
Luchos and learn a new way to transmit the truths of G-d's wishes. He
was now dealing with a nation that needed to know why. That Therefore,
Moshe had to stay on the mountain another 40 days and nights. The Torah
had to be re-taught to him using the second method.
Just as Moshe needed to learn new methods and tools for teaching the
nation so too the nation needed new methods and tools for teaching the
rest of the world. The original method of doing whatever G-d commanded and
the rest of the world observing and doing likewise would no longer work.
The nation wanted to understand and the other nations would want the same;
therefore, G-d commanded them to build the Mishkan.
Let's review the chronology of events. The Exodus was on the 15th of
Nissan, 2448 and the Parting of the Sea was seven days later. Revelation
was seven weeks after the Exodus on the sixth of Sivan, 2448. At that
moment the nation heard and accepted their mission of being the kingdom of
priests and a holy nation and affecting Tikun Olam. The moment of
Revelation was the voice of G-d and only the voice of G-d. G-d had not yet
given Moshe the Luchos.
Moshe ascended the mountain on the seventh of Sivan, 2448 and descended 40
days later on the 17th day of Tamuz, 2448. He observed the Jews worshiping
the Golden Calf, broke the first Luchos, and punished the sinners. On the
18th of Tamuz, 2448 Moshe ascended Sinai to beseech G-d's forgiveness
and stayed another 40 days. He returned on the 30th day of Av, 2448 and
was instructed to fashion the second Luchos and re-ascend the next day,
Rosh Chodesh Ellul, 2448. Moshe was re-taught the Torah during the next 40
days and descended for the last time on Yom Kippur, the tenth of Tishrei,
2448 bearing the second Luchos. On the 11th of Tishrei G-d commanded the
Jews to build the Mishkan.
The Mishkan was a microcosm of the universe. It was to be a living,
breathing, example of what the world could and should have looked like if
only the Jews had not sinned with the Golden Calf. (See Sefer Haparshios)
The idea was a simple one - actions speak louder than words and the most
powerful teaching tool will always be "by-example." The Mishkan was
"by-example." The Kohanim (priests) would serve in the Mishkan / Bais
Hamikdash and show the rest of the nation / world what it meant to live by
the word of G-d, regardless of reason or rational. Every action would
count; every thought would count; and every vessel and ceremony would be
infused with the singular purpose of serving G-d. In turn, the nation
would attempt to emulate the Kohanim and the other nations would attempt
to emulate the Chosen People.
Avraham had two sons, Yishmael and Yitzchak. Yitzchak was designated as,
"Your son, your only son, the son that you love, Yitzchak." In truth,
Yitzchak was Avraham's only son from Sarah. Yishmael was the son of
Hagar. Avraham's chosen mission was to bring redemption to the entire
world. He was blessed to be the "Father of many nations." He was the
father of Yitzchak, Yishmael, and Eisav. Basically, the three great
religious forces in the world emanated from Avraham. Yet, only Yitzchak
would assume the mission of facilitating Tikun Olam.
Two weeks ago we posed the following questions.
3. How does the conflict between Hagar and Sarah figure into Tikun Olam?
4. What part did the Akeida play in sharpening the focus of the Jewish
mission and advancing Tikun Olam?
Tikun Olam has been the focus of everything since the sin of Adam and
Chava; however, only Avraham assumed the obligation of advancing G-d's
purpose for creation. What should have been the obligation of every human
being was gifted to Avraham and his children. The gift was the obligation
of teaching the truth of G-d's reality and wishes to an otherwise
denying or ignorant world. To do so they had to become a kingdom of
priests and a holy nation.
Avraham's appointment to the job of teacher was a process of designation
and volunteerism. G-d did not have to eliminate anyone - they eliminated
themselves! It was only Avraham who volunteered for the job. Teaching
presumes teachers wiling to teach and students willing to learn. Teachers
must be identified as teachers so that students know who they are. Once
identified, teachers must embrace their designation and the training
necessary to become effective teachers.
Sarah demanded that Avraham put the pregnant Hagar in her place. Hagar
needed to know that her destiny as the possible mother of the Chosen
People demanded that she subject herself to Sarah's training and
teaching. Hagar was unwilling to do so and fled into the desert. She
encountered the Angel at the well and was told that although she would not
be the mother of the Jewish people she would be the mother of a great
nation. That mothering job also required that she return and do exactly
what Sarah demanded. Although Yishmael would choose to not follow
Avraham's footsteps as a facilitator of Tikun Olam, he still would be
part of the process. Remember, Tikun Olam was not just for Jews; it was
for the entire world. In order for the great nation emanating from
Yishmael to participate in Tikun Olam they had to be ready to accept
Yitzchak and his children as the teachers.
The same was true when Sarah demanded that Avraham send away Hagar and
Yishmael. Sarah knew that the time had come for Yishmael to be cut from
the apron strings and be allowed to do his own thing. Yitzchak was also
becoming old enough to be influenced by Yishmael, for better and for
worse; therefore, Yishmael had to leave so that Yitzchak could become the
chosen teacher. Anything less would have changed the destiny of the world.
Yitzchak would not have become the teacher he became or the father of the
teachers he was destined to be. In the end, Sarah's seeming harshness
was the greatest kindness she could have done for Yitzchak, Yishmael, and
the entire world.
Thirty-four years later, at the Akeidah (binding), Avraham told Yishmael
and Eliezar, his two most beloved non-Jewish students that they must stay
behind with the donkeys while he and Yitzchak ascend the Temple Mount in
search of designation. They ascended the cloud enshrouded Moriah prepared
to sacrifice themselves for the pure cause of accepting and doing the
incomprehensible commandment of G-d. The Angel halted Avraham's blade
and the test was completed. Avraham had proven that he truly was the
chosen one and Yitzchak had proven that he was the one to carry on the
mission. Therefore, the final words of the Angel were, "And all the
nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your offspring. Why?
Because you have listened to my voice."
From the Akeidah to the Mishkan was 367 years. The Mizbeach that occupied
center stage in the Mishkan would one day stand on the exact spot that
Avraham had offered Yitzchak as an offering to G-d. The message was the
same. Just as the Akeidah proved Yitzchak's worthiness to be the
progenitor of Tikun Olam so too would his children continue to prove
their worthiness on the same mountain and at the exact spot.
Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Aron Tendler
The author is Rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Congregation, Valley Village, CA.