Wednesday, March 18, 2009

168 - Vayakhel-Pekudei

Rav Wolbe cites two explanations offered by the meforshim on how the Mishkan succeeded in causing the Shechina to rest among Bnei Yisroel. The first explanation is offered by the Kuzari who explains that the rules of nature are in reality a manifestation of Hashem's command. Hashem created the world in a way that specific actions bring about certain desired results. When one plants a seed in the ground, a plant sprouts, while if one would do the exact same action upon a rock he would see no such results.

The Kuzari continues that the same holds true for the mitzvos. Mitzvos are the spiritual counterpart of physical nature. When they are performed exactly as Hashem commanded, it brings about the desired outcome; Hashem's Shechina is brought into the world. We do the "preparatory actions" through the performance of the mitzvos, and Hashem brings about the anticipated outcome.

Therefore, we do not need to try to understand why specifically a menorah, shulchan, aron and the other vessels are needed to bring the Shechina into this world. In order for the Shechina to be able to reside in an abode here on earth, specific conditions must be present. The conditions are the proper construction of the Mishkan and its vessels. If there is even one stone missing from the corner of the mizbeiach, the heavenly fire will not descend to consume the korbanos that lay upon it.

Spirituality is no less a reality than physicality. It is not enough to be a "Jew in our heart." Our goal is to connect to Hashem, and solely practicing yoga, meditation or any other human concocted idea will not bring about this desired result. The only way to accomplish this is through the meticulous performance of His mitzvos.

The second explanation is offered by the Sforno and others. They expound on how each vessel in the Mishkan represents a different quality needed in one's avodas Hashem. The combination of all these qualities creates an appropriate condition for Hashem's Shechina to reside on earth.

Rav Wolbe comments that with this approach, it is possible to understand that the entire creation is made up of symbols that represent spiritual concepts. Chazal tell us (Brachos 32a) that there is no artist like Hashem, for He has the ability to not only paint a picture but to breathe life into it too. Just as the artist's painting on paper represents objects found in this world, so too, everything that the Master Artist "paints" represents spiritual ideas and concepts. The Mekubalim explain that the right hand symbolizes mercy and the left hand symbolizes strict judgment, and therefore, the left hand is weaker than the right because Hashem's compassion is exercised to a greater extent than strict judgment. The same holds true for the all the limbs in a person's body; each one represents a way to understand Hashem more deeply.

The Reishis Chochma writes that it is difficult for one who is not married to get a true picture of what it means to love Hashem, for he hasn't experienced the love created through marriage. Rav Wolbe takes this idea a step further and suggests that it might be possible that Hashem created the concept of love between a husband and wife for this reason alone - to gain an idea of what it means to love Hashem.

Everything we observe in the creation can serve as a lesson in our avodas Hashem. It all depends on how you look at it.

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