THE MISHKAN AS A SYMBOL OF DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS
In the portion of Pekude a
reckoning of the work done in the Tabernacle is recorded. Interesting, is
the Hebrew word for reckoning-pekude. (Exodus 38:21) As I have
often pointed out in these weekly Torah discussions, one key to
understanding the meaning of a word in the Torah is by analyzing the first
time it is found.
It follows therefore, that pekude, the accounting of the Tabernacle, is associated with birth. Perhaps it can be suggested that just as a mother plays the crucial role in the development of the fetus and the nurturing of its well being, so too does God serve as a Mother in His protection of the Tabernacle. The Hebrew word for mercy is rachum, from the word rechem that means womb. God's love is the love of the womb. It is a mother's love that is infinite and unconditional, much like the love displayed by God in protecting the Tabernacle.
Another parallel comes to mind. By definition birth involves a sense of history. When a child is born there is recognition of historic continuity, of the infant being part of a continuum of the family's past history. So too, the Mishkan. In many ways, the building of the Tabernacle was the crescendo of Israel's past, the culmination of a dream that Israel as a nation would have a place in which to worship God.
Although the birth of a child is often the end of a time of feelings of joy and anticipation, it is also a beginning. It is the start of hopes and wishes that the child grow to full maturity and impact powerfully on the Jewish people and all humankind. This is also the case with the Mishkan. In many cases of buildings, many involved see the beauty of the actual structure to be an end in itself. But buildings are not ends, they are rather the means to reach higher, to feel more powerfully the deeper presence of God.
The Mishkan is associated with birth for it reminds us that even as a tabernacle or any synagogue is dedicated, our responsibility is to go beyond the bricks and mortar to make sure that the space is infused with spirituality.
The birth of a child is a time to re-evaluate our priorities and look ahead toward the dream of years of growth. The Mishkan, and in the same way our individual structures of worship, should, in the same way, make us reflect on our values and aspire to higher spiritual levels of holiness.
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