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Weekly Chizuk



Adapted from a lecture by Mori v'Rabi Hagaon Hatzaddik Rav Zeidel Epstein' ztzuk"l, תשמ"ט.

"Make for Me a Mikdash so that I should dwell among them." It doesn't say "So that I shall dwell in it." Rather, "so that I shall dwell among them." In each and every one of us.

There is a famous dispute when the command to build the Mishkan was. According to the Ramban (Shmos 25:2) immediately after Kabbolas HaTorah on Har Sinai, Klal Yisroel were instructed to build the Mishkan. Rashi (Shmos 31:18), disagrees and writes that the Mishkan was commanded only after the sin of the Golden Calf. Up until that incident, Klal Yisroel had retained the exalted level they had attained at Har Sinai. After this terrible incident, Klal Yisroel fell from their madreiga. Now they needed the Mishkan in order that the Shechina should dwell among them ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם.

The Gra (in Aderes Eliyahu and Kol Eliyahu) cites the Medrash (Shir Hashirim Rabba 5:1, and Medrash Tanchuma Bechukosai 3) that at the time of Creation Hakadosh Baruch Hu desired to dwell in the lower world. But when Adam HaRishon sinned, the shechina departed to the first Heaven. With each consecutive degeneration, the shechina departed and went higher and higher up until it remained in the 7th. Then Avraham Avinu came and brought it down from the 7th to the 6th. Yitzchak brought it down to the 5th…. Until Moshe Rabbeinu came and brought it down onto Har Sinai.

What did Avraham Avinu do? He only brought down the shechina from the 7th to the 6th. It would seem that wasn't very much. But the medrash makes a big thing of it. Because he caused a Gilui Shechina. Wherever there is more shechina there is more light, and with the increase in light there is more recognition of Hashem, and we become closer to Him. The Ribono Shel Olam has more of a relationship with his Creation. However there are levels. If the Shechina is in the 7th Heaven, it's a different relationship. There's a little tiny light. You can see Him, but it's very hard. When the shechina is in the 6th there's still very little light. There are thousands of years distance between each level of Heaven. But even though it's still quite dark, it's a little brighter. We can see a bit more. Until Moshe Rabbeinu brought the Shechina down to Har Sinai. Then everyone suddenly saw the Shechina with their own eyes. This was the prophecy of Avraham Avinu, אשר יאמר היום בהר ה' יראה - "Everyone will say on this mountain Hashem is totally visible, He can be seen".

But when Klal YIsroel sinned with the Golden Calf the Shechina retreated back to the upper realms. Now it is so far away it barely shines down. But the Ribono Shel Olam in His mercy devised a way for us to retain Gilui Shechina. He said, "Make for Me a Mikdash". The Chossid Yaavetz (in his perush to Pirkei Avos) discusses the 10 miracles that were present in the Beis HaMikdash. The Mikdash was a sample of the world before sin. The entire Creation today is topsy turvy from what it was planned to be. Even nature is distorted and contorted. When Hashem brought down the Flood on the world He turned over all the laws of nature. The entire Solar System was corrupted from its original perfection. Formerly the Earth spun on the Equator and it was continually a pleasant summer in Eretz Yisroel. Now the Earth spins crooked and we have cold winters and hot summers. It wasn't created like this. This is a new system. This is also the reason the original generations before the flood lived so long: it was a good climate.

In order for us to have a hint of what the Creation was originally, the Ribono Shel Olam left over a little corner of the original sanctity that retained the initial form of Creation before it was spoiled by sin. Everyone knows that if you leave a piece of meat out it spoils. Why should meat spoil? So you'll answer, of course it spoils. It's hot and the bacteria grow and spoil it. That's true. And it is so simple to us that we can't think it can be otherwise. That's a law of nature. But intrinsically Hashem's Creation cannot spoil. Meat shouldn't spoil. Our sins ruined nature so that today meat spoils. But in the Beis Hamikdash Hashem retains the original Creation. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos tell us that the holy sacrificial meat never spoiled, even in the hot Jerusalem summer heat!

The Mishna in Sota (48a) tells us that since the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed fruit has no taste. Ask anyone. They'll tell you, the fruit today isn't as good as it used to be; it has no taste. The bread is bland, doesn't taste like bread. Everyone explains that they used to have dark, whole bread with all the good stuff in it. Now they sift the flour and take everything out of it. That's also true. But that's not the real reason. The underlying reason that caused all this is sin. A few generations ago people were purer. Less sin; nature was less spoiled. So the food had more taste. Take an apple. Ask anyone from the old country. Ach! That's not an apple. I remember when an apple tasted like an apple. Today it's gone, it's not an apple. We give excuses. They pick it before it's ripe, they coat it so it shouldn't spoil, they store it until they're ready to market it, and then they add chemicals to make an unripe fruit ripen. These are all excuses. They're true, but that's not the real reason. We are not as pure as previous generations, so the food lost its taste. In the Beis Hamikdash the Ribono Shel Olam left us a little corner where nothing gets spoiled. Pirkei Avos tells us the sacrificial meat never spoiled, even when left out on a hot summer day. The mishna calls that a miracle. The Chossid Yaavetz explains, of course it's a miracle. But it's a miracle for us today because we are accustomed to a different nature. Whatever is out of the ordinary from what we are used to is a miracle. But according to the original laws of nature it was no miracle, it was normal.

The gemara tells us an important secret: whoever lives in that realm of the original Creation, miracles are normal: The daughter of R. Chanina ben Dosa by mistake put vinegar in her Shabbos candles instead of oil. This caused her much anguish [thinking there would be no light in the house that Shabbos.] Her father said to her, "My daughter, don't worry, the One Who said that oil should light will say that vinegar should light. Why should oil burn any better than vinegar?" (Ta'anis 25a).

What! Vinegar can't burn. You know why oil burns? It's the oxygen. Vinegar can't oxidize like oil. That's basic chemistry. That's a fact! Chanina ben Dosa knew better. You know why oil burns? Because Hashem said that oil should burn. And if He so desires that vinegar should burn, it will burn! Chanina ben Dosa lived in a world before sin. And so we find in the gemara Bava Metzia. Who says wolves attack sheep. Maybe sheep can attack wolves! And that is what happened to R. Chanina. His sheep came home with bears in their horns. It's all up to the will of the Creator. This is real normalcy. This is the way the world was supposed to be. Today we have a different nature because it's been spoiled by sin. The Beis Hamikdash was a little corner left over by the Ribono Shel Olam so that we can understand the Creation the way it was supposed to be.

"When Hakadosh Baruch Hu created Man, He took him and gave him a tour of Gan Eden. Hashem pointed out each tree that was there and told him, 'Take a look at everything I created. Look how wonderful and exemplary they all are. I created everything just for you. Be careful not to spoil or damage my world." (Koheles Rabba 7)

When we learn this Chazal we take it very simply. Hakadosh Baruch Hu told Adam HaRishon, "Look around you. I created such a beautiful world. There is so much good food to eat. All the wonderful fruit. The angels roast meat for you. You squeeze a grape and you have wine. I want you to keep enjoying it. Take good care of it!" We think that Hashem was telling him to be a good farmer.

But now we have a new pshat. The Ribono Shel Olam told Adam HaRishon, "Listen. I created everything so that you should recognize Me. That's your perfection." Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants everyone to attain perfection. Perfection is recognition of Hakadosh Baruch Hu in the world. "Take a look at everything I created. Look how wonderful and praiseworthy they all are." What's so wonderful and beautiful? Simple physical beauty? Simple appreciation of beauty? Hakadosh Baruch Hu meant something deeper. In the beauty we see the handiwork of Hashem. "I created everything just for you" to give you the chance to see My presence in everything and to recognize that the hand of G-d everywhere. There are beautiful creatures so that one can make a bracha "Blessed is He that created such beauty in His world." That's the halacha. When R. Meir was confronted with a beautiful woman, he made the bracha "Blessed is He that created such beauty in His world." (We don't make that bracha because we have other things in our head. But R. Meir only saw Divinity in G-d's creation because he had only spiritual thoughts in his head.)

This is the real pshat of "Put your mind to it." Don't spoil the creation. Use the creation to come to recognize the Ribono Shel Olam. This Creation that has within it the potential to recognize Hashem, also has a marvelous power to cover everything up. To hide G-d's hand. The word for nature in Hebrew is טבע. The gematria of the word הטבע (the Nature = 86) is the same numerical value as the Name of Hashem - אלקׁים (= 86). That's the nature of Nature. All the doctors see the miracles and wonders of Hashem every day every minute, and yet all they see is, "that's nature." Nature has the power to hide itself so completely you can't see it. And that's our job, to see Hashem in Nature. And if we don't put our minds to this task to look for Hakadosh Baruch Hu in this world, we have ruined the whole world, we're not doing our job. And when we don't do our job and don't see Hashem in nature, we are spoiling the purpose of the Creation, and that spoils and corrupts everything.

The Ribono Shel Olam told Moshe Rabbeinu to build the Mikdash. He gave Klal Yisroel a little corner where Nature was unspoiled.

"Make for Me a Mikdash so that I should dwell among them." It doesn't say "So that I shall dwell in it." Rather, "so that I shall dwell among them." In each and every one of us. Hashem wants to dwell within us. Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave to each and every one of us a heart with the power to recognize Him. Wherever you go you can see the Shechina. This is Gilui Shechina. That's our job. To see Shechina everywhere. But we have to remember that everywhere that has the possibility to see Shechina, also has the power to cover over the Shechina so that all you see is nature.

Gut Shabbos!

© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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