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"They shall make a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell amongst them" (25:1,8).
This Parasha contains the details of the construction plans for the Israelite Tabernacle in the wilderness. Made according to G-d's instructions out of the most exquisite and valuable possessions of the Israelites, this structure would enable to shechina to embrace the community at large: "so that I may dwell amongst them". Rabbeinu Bachya emphasizes that "dwelling amongst them" means the bringing of G-d's presence to every individual. The Tabernacle was a way, indeed a medium, for the shechina to become more accessible to all wherever they may be.
The Kli Yakar considers the symbolisms, the underlying messages of eternal value that the mishkan's construction details convey. One example is the specifications of the dimensions.
The aron (ark) was to be two and half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high (25:10). 2˝x1˝ x1˝. All dimensions ended in fractions.
The shulchan (table) was two cubits long, one cubit high and one and a half cubits high (25:23). 2x1x1˝. One number ended in a fraction, the others were whole numbers.
However both the mizbach hanechoshet (copper altar made for the offerings) and the mizbach haketoret (inner altar for the burning of incense) ended in whole numbers: five cubits by five cubits by three cubits (27:1), and one cubit by one cubit by two cubits (30:2) respectively. 5x5x3 and 1x1x2. Whole numbers throughout, no fractions at all.
The Kli Yakar explains that the offerings on both altars made it possible for sins that are completely in the past to be forgiven without reservation. No "buts". Wholly forgiven, symbolized by the altars' dimensional whole numbers. This is in line with "the kohen shall cause [the individual's sin offering on the altar] to go up in smoke… and his sin shall be forgiven" (Lev. 4:31). Perhaps the idea can be extended to: "if the wicked person repents from all his sins… all the transgressions that he committed will not be remembered against him" (Ez. 18:21-22). G-d utterly wipes out previous sins on completion of teshuva sheleima. Entirely.
The shulchan's measurements are only partially stated in whole numbers. The table represents people's physical requirements, including food. The ideal is that individuals have enough to provide for day-to-day needs, with the feeling of being satisfied with what they have. However, the Torah recognizes that it is human nature to always want more, so it is natural to feel only "half satisfied". That is represented by the table being "a cubit and a half in height". It is one's duty to recognize that feeling of greed as part of human nature and strive to discipline it, directing the desire to acquire wealth into the right channels.
In contrast, the aron's dimensions all end in fractions. No whole numbers. The aron contained the Tablets of the Law (25:15, Rashi). However great one's Torah learning, it is only a fraction of what is there to be achieved. There will always be more to discover and understand in life's journey in Torah learning. As the Kli Yakar describes: "It is so very deep, who can fathom it?" (Eccl. 7:24)
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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