May we merit that our homes be found a worthy place for God to dwell, especially in this era where He has no central or permanent home.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Teruma” (Exodus 25:1-27:19) and in it we read about the construction of the Tabernacle, better known as the “Mishkan,” the portable synagogue that the Jewish people used during their 40 years of wandering in the desert. The Mishkan was the prototype for the Temple in Jerusalem, which later served as the national synagogue, and the Temple is the prototype for the modern-day synagogue.
The Mishkan and Temple had a number of famous and inspiring utensils that continue to capture our imagine to this day. In this article, I would like to suggest ways of keeping the messages of these utensils alive, in a way that can improve our home and make it a happy place to live. Indeed, the commentaries all teach that although God wants us to create a sanctuary for Him to dwell in, He also desires, and perhaps more so, that each one of us, our homes and our soul, becomes a place for Him to dwell, as well.
Let’s begin with the Menorah, the Candelabra, which gave light not only to the Temple, but also to the world. The Menorah represents the performance of mitzvot and good deeds, as the book of Proverbs (6:23) tells us, “Candles represent mitzvot.” Just like the Menorah was alight with fire, so too, our observance of the mitzvot must be with a “fiery” attitude. A home where Torah observance takes center stage is a home that is truly “lit up.”
The Aron Kodesh, Holy Ark, represents the Torah. Indeed, inside the Ark were the tablets of the Ten Commandments, both the broken pieces of the first set along with the second set, as well as Moses’ hand written Torah scroll. We learn from here that a Jewish home must be one in which Torah study and a Torah lifestyle take center stage. This is what distinguishes a Jewish home from all others. Every Jewish home should also be a mini library of Torah books at all levels, languages, and subjects, where members of the household can pick up a book and learn something new in spare moments.
The Mizbeach, the Altar, was where animal sacrifices were offered. Whether it was sinners, those who wished to give thanks, and a number of other considerations, sacrifices were a major part of Temple worship. Although animal sacrifices are no longer made, other forms of “sacrifices” do certainly exist. Parents have to make sacrifices for their children, spouses have to make sacrifices for one another, and often families make sacrifices of finance and convenience to live a Jewish life (no one said that being Jewish is cheap!). As it was then, and so it is now, God takes note of our sacrifices and rewards them accordingly.
Finally, the Shulchan, the Table, was one of the lesser-known utensils of the Temple. On it were loaves of bread that the Kohanim, the Priests, would eat these breads every Shabbat at which time they were replaced with new ones. Miraculously, the breads stayed fresh all week! The table is a central feature of every home. The table represents hospitality, which teaches us that guests must be an integral part of any Jewish household. We learn the importance of hospitality from Abraham, the first Jew, whose love for offering hospitality was legendary. The table also represent meals and food, which is of course a reminder that food must always be kosher. A Jewish table and a Jewish home should be one where the observance of Kashrut is the only way of life. Not only what we eat, but how we eat, and when we eat, is full of Jewish tradition and meaning.
So there you have it…and we only discussed four Temple vessels! May we merit that our homes be found a worthy place for God to dwell, especially in this era where He has no central or permanent home.
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.
Every Synagogue is a Miniature Temple of God
Parenting Advice from a Mysterious, Angel-Like Source
The ‘Marriage’ That Lasts Forever
How Holy Intentions Can Transform the World Around You
Use Visualization to Make Your Dreams Come True!
The Ark Reflects Our Own Potential Holiness
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