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Mazal tov to Sammy Kupfer on his engagement to Melanie Korn! שתזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל!

On Thursday night, Rav Kahn gave the sicha ruchanit on the subject of, "Thinking About the Israeli Elections" (download here). Following the delicious mishmar cholent, Rav Kahn offered a shiur on, "The Hanhagot Yesharot of the Maor Eynaim", Rav Wolicki discussed the meaning of, "Bo BaYom: The Pivotal Day in the History of Torah Shebaal Peh", and Rav Arram taught a shiur on, "The Importance of the Number Seventy".

This Shabbat is an in-Shabbat, the last of the zman, hosted by Rav Adi Krohn and his family. In addition to joining the yeshiva for the spiritual davening, delicious meals, and oneg, Rav Krohn will offer several shiurim over Shabbat. If you are in Beit Shemesh for Shabbat, please join us!

23 Adar 5775

The Mishkan and Har Sinai
By Rabbi Pesach Wolicki

Parshat Pekudei – the final parsha of sefer Shemot – concludes with the erecting of the Mishkan.

The Ramban states that the Mishkan served as an extension of the revelatory experience of the giving of the Torah at Har Sinai. At the revelation at Sinai the nation surrounded the mountain, there were boundaries beyond which the people were forbidden to pass, an inner boundary existed for the Kohanim, and the point of contact with G-d was in the center. Similarly, the nation camped around the Mishkan, the people – other than Kohanim – were not allowed to enter, Kohanim were allowed inside, and the point of contact with G-d, the epicenter of prophecy – the Chruvim and the Ark which housed the tablets – was at the heart of the structure. Therefore, through the presence of the Mishkan, the revelation at Sinai was experienced in perpetuity.

The Torah states “And Moshe erected the Mishkan.” (Shemot 40:18) What follows this verse are numerous verbs describing the setting up and ordering of the Mishkan and everything in it. All of these verses are stated in the singular, implying that Moshe did everything himself.

The Midrash Tanchuma comments that Betzalel – the builder of the Mishkan – tried to put it together but the Shechina – the Divine Presence – would not dwell in it. Betzalel then brought everything to Moshe. When Moshe put it together, the Shechina did indeed dwell in it.

The Alter of Slabodka explains (Or HaTzafun II, p. 172) that only Moshe could erect the Mishkan and bring the Shechina there because of Moshe’s primary role as the giver of the Torah. He points out that – similarly – the first Temple could only have been completed by Shlomo Hamelech who embodied the pinnacle of wisdom and Torah knowledge.

The heart of the Mishkan was the Ark which contained the tablets and the Torah. The presence of the Shechina is only possible through service to and contact with Hashem built on devotion to Torah wisdom.

In other religions, the primary religious experience is prayer. In Judaism, it is Torah. Torah study brings a person to an understanding of the will of G-d. When one understands a particular halacha or Torah idea, one is communing with G-d on the most intimate level. One is blending his thoughts with G-d’s thoughts, so to speak. “Make His will your will.” (Avot 2:4) In this experience, the will of G-d and our will become synonymous. It is a blending of our very identities with the Divine.

In prayer, I stand before G-d. In Torah study I am with Him.

To emphasize the primacy of Torah wisdom as the source of our connection to G-d, the Mishkan – with the Torah at its center – is only fully erected by Moshe, the giver of the Torah.

As the Ramban compared the setup of Mishkan in the camp to the Revelation at Sinai, so too, this image can be seen in the setup of the Jewish People in the land of Israel. Jerusalem, the epicenter of our encounter with Hashem, sits in the middle of the country, while Jerusalem itself is surrounded by the camp of Israel. And, indeed, the greatness of Jerusalem is apparent in its status as the center of Torah scholarship in the world: “For from Tzion shall go forth Torah and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem.”

While we turn towards Jerusalem in prayer we must also open our minds and hearts to hear the message that is coming from Jerusalem. Ultimately, the surest way for G-d to dwell within our midst is through the study of Torah.

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