Passover: Redemption Draws Nigh

Passover begins tomorrow night, April 14, 2014.

While living in Budapest, Hungary, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a Passover Seder with a large group of Holocaust survivors. This special group opened my eyes to a deeper message of freedom and redemption.

Sitting with Jewish people who experienced one of the worst atrocities in history, and to see how excited they were to be at that Seder was encouraging. For most, it was their first Seder since they were children, and for a few of them, it might also have been their last. Yet to experience and celebrate with them not only our liberation from Egypt, but their deliverance from the Holocaust, made the message of redemption during this season very real.

Pesach (Hebrew for Passover), recounts G-d’s deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt approximately 3,300 years ago. The Passover week actually includes three separate, yet connected holidays – Pesach (only the first night), Chag HaMatzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread), and Yom HaBikkurim (the Feast of First Fruits and Resurrection). Passover has remained a distinct identity marker of the Jewish people throughout years of dispersion and turmoil, and remains one of the most widely observed Jewish practices.

Pesach, as did all the Biblical festivals, played an enormous role within the life of Yeshua and his followers. There are over 28 references to the observance of Passover within the New Testament alone. Many believe that by the time of Yeshua, an order of service was being developed around the covenant meal, called a Seder, where, according to the Biblical text, lamb is commanded to be eaten along with matzah and maror (bitter herbs). As many of us are already aware, the Seder is the context for Yeshua’s last covenant meal (often called the Last Supper) shared with his disciples before his death.

The Biblical text is clear that we can never atone for ourselves. Only a blood covering can provide atonement for sin. That was the role of the sacrificial system – to make atonement for our shortcomings. The blood of the Passover lamb was placed on the door-posts, which caused death to “pass over” the homes of the Israelites. Through the sacrifice of Yeshua, death in our lives is “passed over” once and for all.

Our sages teach us that in every generation we should celebrate Passover as though we ourselves are personally being delivered from Egypt. For within Jewish understanding, “Egypt” represents more than just a geographical place on a map. The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which is related to the word maytzorim, meaning boundaries and limitations. As such, to be “redeemed from Egypt” is to overcome and be redeemed from those natural limitations that impede the realization of our fullest potential. Passover is our opportunity for redemption!

This “Festival of Freedom” is one all of us can benefit from – Jews and non-Jews alike. And I pray that it should be so for all of us. Freedom to think beyond ourselves … to not take who we are, and what we have for granted. Freedom to think on a larger scale and have a bigger vision for what G-d wants to do in our lives and in our congregations. G-d is only as limited as we make Him in our lives. Be encouraged in this Passover season, for redemption draws nigh!

Chag Pesach Sameach – Have a wonderful and Happy Passover!

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Passover, Elijah, and Shabbat HaGadol

Shabbat HaGadol

This week is Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat that occurs at the beginning of the week in which Passover will be observed (Passover begins Monday evening). There are five special shabbatot leading up to Passover. Each special Shabbat has special readings that are read in addition to the weekly portion. The exception is Shabbat HaGadol. Instead of an additional reading from the Torah, Shabbat HaGadol is highlighted by only a special Haftarah reading from Malachi which concludes with the words:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of HaShem” (Mal. 3:23).

Jewish tradition teaches us that Elijah is a messianic figure who will usher in Mashiach and the Messianic Age. This is purposely fitting at this season because Passover is our reliving and retelling of our redemption from Egypt. Both Jewish tradition and the New Testament portray Elijah as representing the coming of messianic redemption. That is why the figure of Elijah is so connected with Passover. Passover today commemorates our connection with not only our physical redemption from slavery, but our spiritual redemption as well.

The Besorah of Luke associates the personification of Elijah with John the Immerser:

“And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the L-rd” (Luke 1:17).

So John the Immerser was a partial fulfillment of this week’s special Haftarah reading from Malachi 3:23 in preparation for the incarnation and revelation of Yeshua the Messiah. Yet, the role of Elijah is still not complete, for there is an expectation that Elijah himself will yet return ahead of our glorious Mashiach. This is the reason Elijah is referenced so often in Jewish tradition, especially during Passover. During the Seder there is a whole place setting (or in some homes, simply a cup) that is specifically set aside. It is left untouched in the messianic hope that each year we will open the door during our Passover festivities, and welcome in Elijah, who will in turn usher in the return of our Messiah.

Next week during the Seder, we will proclaim, “Eliyahu HaNavi … Come quickly and speedily with Messiah the Son of David.” As we sing those words this Passover, let us also remember the words associated with Shabbat HaGadol – “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the HaShem.”

May we all merit the return of Mashiach and see that day fulfilled speedily and soon!

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Consequences of a Violated Relationship

Nadab-and-Abihu-killed-by-God-for-making-an-unLawAcharei Mot

Traditionally, Leviticus 16, which deals with the proper protocol for the High Priest during the special Yom Kippur service, is read in the synagogue on the morning of Yom Kippur. The Torah introduces the Yom Kippur service immediately following the death of Aaron’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu. This demonstrates that there is a direct connection between this tragedy, mentioned in our Torah portion and Yom Kippur.

According to the Sages, part of the transgression committed by Aaron’s two sons is that not only did they offer improper offerings, but they entered into the Holy of Holies, which only the Kohen HaGadol (the High Priest) is allowed to do. Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (First Century) comments that either sin would have been enough to warrant their death. As a result, the entire rest of the chapter deals with the proper protocol of Yom Kippur and the order for the High Priest to enter into the Holy of Holies.

It is taught that Moses’ long process for seeking forgiveness on behalf of the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf ended on the tenth day of Tishrei (Yom Kippur) when he returned with the second set of tablets. That day became associated with forgiveness.

The rest of our Torah portion goes on to describe the Yom Kippur sacrifices and proper sexual relationships.

Often we might not think that God cares that much about protocol and how we live our lives. It seems Nadav and Avihu took this for granted as well. The problem with Nadav and Avihu is they knowingly and intentionally violated the mitzvot God clearly commanded them to obey.

I don’t believe HaShem is out to “zap” everyone the moment they stray. Instead, throughout our Scriptures we often see a loving and merciful God who is always willing to offer second (and more!) opportunities to do teshuva, and re-orient ourselves spiritually. But as with being a parent or a spouse, or in other types of relationships, there are certain lines one does not cross without severe repercussions – adultery, lying, stealing, cheating. It seems that we too have certain protocols and commitments we expect one to follow in certain types of relationships.

The same with HaShem. Nadav and Avihu violated their intimate relationships with HaShem. As priests who were consecrated to serve and devote themselves wholly to God, they took advantage of that relationship. It seems, based on the following commandments of our Torah portion, they may have even violated other intimate relationships as well.

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The Leper Scholar

Parasht Metzora

Our Torah portions this week discuss the malady of tzara’at.Previously I have discussed how tzara’at is not what we often think it is. Although it is common to understand these passages as dealing with an actual skin disease, Jewish tradition teaches that tzara’at is not leprosy at all, but a serious spiritual malady caused by Sinat Chinam – hatred without a reason.

Interestingly, there is a wealth of Jewish tradition that makes a connection between tzara’at and the Messiah.After all, the rabbis teach us that everything in the Torah concerns Mashiach. Therefore, the rabbis recognized that even within the spiritual malady of tzara’at were hidden signs of Mashiach:

This tradition of connecting tzara’at and Mashiach begins with a particular verse from last week’s parasha, in Leviticus 13:12-13:

יב וְאִם-פָּרוֹחַ תִּפְרַח הַצָּרַעַת בָּעוֹר וְכִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֵת כָּל-עוֹר הַנֶּגַע מֵרֹאשׁוֹ וְעַד-רַגְלָיו–לְכָל-מַרְאֵה עֵינֵי הַכֹּהֵן.

12 If the tzara’at breaks out all over the skin, so that, as far as the cohen can see, the person with tzara’at has sores everywhere on his body, from his head to his feet;

יג וְרָאָה הַכֹּהֵן וְהִנֵּה כִסְּתָה הַצָּרַעַת אֶת-כָּל-בְּשָׂרוֹ–וְטִהַר אֶת-הַנָּגַע: כֻּלּוֹ הָפַךְ לָבָן טָהוֹר הוּא.

13 then the cohen is to examine him, and if he sees that the tzara’at has covered his entire body, he is to pronounce the person with the sores as ritually pure – it has all turned white and he is clean.

Referring particularly to verse 13, the Talmud States (b. Sanhedrin 97a):

“The Son of David (Mashiach) will only come when every government becomes heretical.Rabah said, ‘Where do we see this in Scripture? From the verse “He has turned completely white, he is ritually pure.’”

Rashi further expands on this verse and notes, “Just as when the affliction has spread throughout the entire skin and the person is ritually pure, so too, when all the governments have become heretical, the redemption will come.”

Recognizing that the Messiah must be afflicted, and familiar with suffering, the rabbis went even further – and one of the ways they identified Mashiach in the Talmud is with the title, The Leper Scholar:

“The Rabbanan (rabbis) say that Mashiach’s name is The Leper Scholar of the House of Rabbi, for it is written, ‘Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten and afflicted by G-d (b. Sanhedrin 98b).’”

The rabbis obviously recognized that this does not mean that Mashiach would literally be afflicted with tzara’at but that this was a metaphor.This connection between tzara’at and Mashiach is not unique to rabbinic literature. Rather, Yeshua himself is described in the Besorah as having compassion for the metzora (the person with tzara’at), and healing them:

“And it happened when he was in a certain city, a man covered with tzara’at saw Yeshua, and he fell on his face and implored him, saying, ‘L-rd, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’Then Yeshua put out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing, be healed.’And he commanded him to tell no one, ‘But go to the cohen and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moshe commanded (Luke 5:12-14).”

Those with tzara’at were healed, and their healings were part of the sign of his being the Mashiach. Yeshua taught that we must forgive, and not let Sinat Chinam eat away within us:

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

According to the sages, tzara’at is the physical effect of sin. It is a spiritual disease that must be kept in check. To specifically avoid tzara’at, we must avoid slander and baseless hatred. All of us have spiritual sores and wounds, which if left untreated, can fester into something much worse. That is why we must learn to forgive and let go of any kind of judgment and hatred we might have against another person. Sinat Chinam – baseless hatred will destroy us, but forgiveness and healing can set us free!

We must learn how to go before our great High Priest, Yeshua our Messiah (Hebrews 5), and let him inspect us.For through him, not only will we find healing and wholeness, but redemption as well.

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A Misunderstood Condition

Parashat Tazria

I used to teach in a Hebrew School at a large Reform Synagogue. One of my responsibilities was to prepare young adolescents for their B’nai Mitzvah. It never ceased to happen that every year some twelve year-old would get completely bummed out upon discovering that their entire Torah portion was about physical impurities and leprosy. Often they would try everything imaginable to get the rabbi or cantor to let them choose another Torah portion. But usually to no avail.

Although the majority of this week’s Torah portion focuses on leprosy, this is really not the most accurate translation and understanding of the Hebrew word Tzara’at. Although it is common to understand these passages as dealing with an actual skin disease, Jewish tradition teaches that tzara’at is not leprosy at all, but a serious spiritual condition.

According to the sages, tzara’at is a spiritual malady. It is believed that tzara’at is the result of Sinat Chinam – hatred without a reason. Tzara’at is the direct result of unforgiveness and hatred. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch demonstrates that tzara’at cannot possibly be what we commonly understand as leprosy today. This conclusion is due to two things: First, the physical symptoms for leprosy are different from the Torah’s description. Second, the confinement procedures and rules for a person with tzara’at make absolutely no sense. For example, a person with tzara’at which covers their entire body is not ritually impure. But a person who is only partially covered with tzara’at is ritually impure (13:13).

Another example has to do with tzara’at within a home or dwelling (14:26). The Torah states that before a house can be declared ritually pure, all its contents must be removed. Otherwise they become unclean. However, if there was truly a worry about tzara’at being a contagious skin disease, it is irrational to exclude the household items from the quarantine.

The Talmud further states that if the symptoms of tzara’at appear on a newlywed or during a festival, the priest is not even to examine the person so as not to interfere with the celebrations. Therefore, if the purpose was to actually prevent the spread of disease, it would be important to enforce the laws of tzara’at so as not to spread it any further during these greater times of mingling and festivities.

Yeshua himself taught, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged! For the measure with which you judge others is how you too will be judged (Matthew 7:1-2).” According to the sages, tzara’at is the physical effect of sin. It is a spiritual disease that must be kept in check. To specifically avoid tzara’at, one must avoid slander and baseless hatred.

All of us have spiritual sores and wounds, which if left untreated, can fester into something much worse. That is why we must learn to forgive and let go of any kind of judgment and hatred we might have against another person. We must learn how to go before our great High Priest, Yeshua our Messiah, and let him inspect us. For through him, not only will we find healing, but wholeness and redemption as well.

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Holy Cow!

redShabbat Parah

This week is a special Shabbat, called Shabbat Parah. It is named after the special supplemental reading, called the maftir, from Numbers 19 that describes the process for sacrificing the Red Heifer. This portion is always read before the beginning of the Jewish month of Nissan.

In biblical times, every person was required to bring a Korban Pesach, a Passover Sacrifice on the eve of Passover that was to be eaten during the Seder. However, only people who were ritually pure were able to partake of it. Therefore, right before the month of Nissan (the month in which Passover falls) a public announcement would be made that every person who had become impure must purify themselves, and be extremely careful not to become impure before Passover.

The parah aduma (red heifer) represents the quintessential chok (a divine decree without any seeming rationale). The ashes of the Red Heifer were used for purification. Through the death of a calf, the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and those who served were purified and ritually cleansed to serve in the presence of G-d. The ashes were also used to purify someone who became ritually impure through contact with a dead body.

In Likutei Halachot, Rebbe Nachman explains why this special portion (Shabbat Parah) is read after Purim. In the course of our victory over Haman-Amalek, we become defiled through contact with death and evil, and need to be purified. The Sfat Emet further explains that tumat met (impurity from the dead) is a function of mortality, which entered the world as a result of the primordial sin of Adam who ate from the tree of knowledge. According to Rabbi Zvi Leshem, man’s desire to be all knowing like G-d, placing the value of knowledge over that of faith, led to his downfall, bringing death and impurity into the world. Ritual purity comes through the willingness to serve HaShem even in a reality permeated by doubts and confusion.

On this Shabbat Parah we focus on a cow. Although this does not make any sense to our rational minds in the modern age, there are significant reasons. For it is not about us, but about HaShem. The purpose of the red heifer is to to bring forth purification and life where there seems only death.

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Purim: A Sudden Reversal

Shabbat Zachorpurim

The Shabbat that precedes Purim is called Shabbat Zachor – the Shabbat of Remembrance. For on this Shabbat, there is an added maftir (a different concluding reading) and a different Haftarah reading because we are to recall the Torah command to blot out the memory of the Amalekites.

The sages recognized the direct connection between the command to blot out the memory of Amalek (Deut. 25:17-19) and Purim. Haman, the chief villain of the Purim story is a descendent of Agag (see Esther 3:1). And we learn from the special Haftarah reading this week (1 Samuel 15:1-34) that this is King Agag, the king of the Amalekites during the reign of King Saul.

Thus, the rabbis maintained that this portion should be read right before Purim because Haman was an Amalekite – a descendent of King Agag. Haman continued the same hatred against the Jewish people as his ancestors, the Amalekites, did. Therefore, Purim is not just a deliverance from Haman the individual, but a deliverance from Amalek.

In her commentary on jewschool.com, Alana Vincent raised an additional interesting question regarding the Torah command to “remember what Amalek did to you … (Deut. 25:17)”:

What does it mean to remember? How on earth am I supposed to remember something that happened thousands of years ago, to someone else? How can we both remember and blot out the remembrance of Amalek? Why go through such terrible mental contortions at all—isn’t it better to just forget?

Amalek and Purim represent a clear biblical theme of sudden reversal – when G-d turns everything upside down. After all, with all of this talk of wiping out the Amalekites, and the threatened destruction of the Jewish people mentioned in the book of Esther … why do we celebrate? Why is Purim associated with so much joy? As Alana asks, isn’t it better to just forget?

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair points out that the only difference between a tragedy and a comedy is the ending. The book of Esther is written in the classic style of a comedy. The whole tragedy is turned upside down, Haman is hung on the enormous gallows he himself built, the Jewish people are saved, thousands of Persians convert to Judaism, and a Jewish girl becomes queen of what is now modern day Iran. The irony of the book should be evident.

And yet, Rabbi Sinclair adds that this is what it will be like with the coming of Messiah. It will be a sudden reversal. “When Mashiach comes, he will come in an instant and things will be turned upside down in a second just like Purim.”

We must always remember … and … never forget. We must never forget our past and struggles, and yet we must remember that redemption is near, for Mashiach is coming.

Chag Sameach!

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Humility and the Calling of HaShem

Parashat Vayikra

The very first word in the book of Leviticus is Vayikra – “He called”:

… וַיִּקְרָא אֶל-מֹשֶׁה 1 And HaShem called unto Moshe

Interestingly, the last letter of this word – the alef – is always written in a Torah scroll much smaller than all the other letters. The obvious question is, why?

G-d’s instructions to the prophet Bilaam in Numbers 23:16 begins with a similar word –   וַיִּקָּר (vayikar). The only difference is there is no alef. This word has two connotations: It can either mean ‘chance’ (mikreh) or it can also mean ‘spiritual contamination’ (as in 1 Sam. 20:26 – regarding Kings Saul & David). Therefore, the very first word in Leviticus, Vayikra, is spelled with a small alef so that it resembles the word G-d used when speaking to Bilaam.

But again … Why? What is the Torah trying to teach us?

The small alef is a lesson in humility. If you remember back to Numbers 23, Bilaam acted in arrogance. He was being paid to curse Israel, however, every time he tried, HaShem caused him to speak a blessing (for example the beautiful blessing of “Ma Tovu …”).

Moshe must be reminded that although he too hears from G-d, he must not act like the wicked Bilaam. He must act without interjecting his own ego and self-interests. There is even a tradition that it was Moshe himself – who in his humility, first wrote this word with the small alef – reminding himself not to get puffed up “like all the other letters.”

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 also speaks about being puffed up (“It takes only a little chametz to leaven a whole batch of dough”). The point is that even the smallest amount of pride, arrogance, or sin can quickly overtake everything that surrounds it.

Therefore the small letter alef in the very first word of Leviticus was meant to remind Moshe – and remind us – to be humble in following G-d’s instructions, because in the end it is not about us, or how great we think are in observing the mitzvot – but rather it is about HaShem who desires that our actions lead to holiness.

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Moses, Leadership, and Humility

Parashat Pekudei

No task is ever below our dignity. No matter how far we climb on the social ladder, we should never think too highly of ourselves. How is this supported in this week’s parasha? The answer is found where G-d calls Moses to be personally involved in the building and erecting of the Tabernacle:

“HaShem spoke unto Moses, saying: ‘On the first day of the first month, you are to set up the Tabernacle, the tent of meeting (Exodus 40:1-2).’”

In verse 40:2 and subsequent verses, G-d tells Moses, “YOU are to set up the Tabernacle.” It was not enough for Moses to simply oversee the work that was being done, he had to be actively involved. Despite the fact that Moses experienced God face-to-face, and received the Torah upon Mt. Sinai, G-d called him personally to set up the Tabernacle. G-d expected even Moses to lead by example.

Moses could have balked at this idea. He could have refused. But he didn’t. He obeyed. Although he was the leader of the Israelites, and one of the greatest figures who ever lived, he did not consider himself as too important to do such work. Rather, throughout the rest of the parasha he was actively involved in the construction of the Tabernacle.

Speaking on this verse (Ex. 40:2), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, once stated:

This teaches that a person cannot only busy himself with his own spiritual development and Torah study. He needs to also be involved in helping others, just like G-d who wanted Moshe to be involved with the Tabernacle, not just as a spiritual leader and mentor, but also, “with his hands” (Gutnick Edition Chumash, 609).

True leadership is always by example. It is being willing to do whatever needs to be done. No matter how big or how small. When I formally began my rabbinical studies, I remember my rabbi asking me a very vivid question: “How good are you at plunging toilets?” His response was that if I was not willing to plunge toilets I had no business becoming a rabbi. And he was right. I cannot tell you how many toilets I have plunged since that day nearly seventeen years ago.  Because anytime something goes wrong in a congregation … “O Rabbi!”

Often we look at those in leadership or influential positions and covet their jobs. Yet, if we really saw what the position entailed, most of us would actually pass it up. For example, what most people see congregational leaders doing in public, is in reality often only about ten percent of our work. What they do not see is what happens on all the other days of the week and behind the scenes – moving chairs, administration, volunteer coordination, or cleaning stains out of the carpet after oneg. We must always be willing to serve. And in whatever capacity is needed.

This also follows the leadership model demonstrated by Yeshua, who taught that the greatest shall be least, and the least shall be the greatest (Mat 20:16). Furthermore, the greatest leader is to be the servant of all (Mark 9:35). Yeshua never perceived a task or person as below him. Rather, he served all, washed their feet, or supported all those who were hurting. As a “greater Moses,” Yeshua was our greatest example. Like Moses, G-d has called each of us to be participants in the building of his Kingdom. And each of us has the opportunity to partner with God in bringing redemption into the world. G-d has a role for each of us to play. The question is, are we willing to do it? For as James writes (1:22), it is not enough to only be hearers of what Torah says, but we must be doers as well!

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A Tabernacle, Furniture, and the Presence of God

Parashat Vayakhel

This week’s Torah portion gives further instructions concerning the building of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) and its furnishings. This raises an interesting question: For if the Bible’s overall theme is about G-d’s relationship with humanity through the Jewish people, then why is so much attention given to the details of objects? The answer is deeply connected to the purpose of the Mishkan, its furnishings, and the manifest presence of the Divine.

The Mishkan as Representation of G-d’s Presence

The Hebrew word for the Tabernacle is Mishkan (משכן ), which means “to dwell” or “dwelling.” It comes from the root, shachan (שכן ), which is also related to the word Shechinah (שכינה ), meaning the manifest presence of G-d. They are all based on the same Hebrew root. ThTherefore, even the word Mishkan denotes HaShem’s presence (the Shechinah) that would dwell among the people of Israel.

The Jewish sage, Ibn Ezra, comments that “while Moses was still on Mt. Sinai, G-d commanded him concerning the Tabernacle so that it would be a permanent place among the people for the glory that had rested on the mountain.” The author of Revelation writes that this continued presence of God will continue beyond the second coming of the Messiah and even into the “New Jerusalem.”

“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of G-d is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. G-d Himself will be with them and be their G-d (Rev. 21:3).’”

According to the Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman), “The secret of the Mishkan is that the Shechinah, which rested openly on Mt. Sinai, would dwell in the Mishkan in a concealed way … Thus, the Shechinah which appeared to them at Sinai continued to rest with Israel in the Mishkan.”

This idea is further supported by Ibn Ezra, who states: “While Moses was still on Mt. Sinai, G-d commanded him concerning the tabernacle so that it would be a permanent place among the people for the glory that had rested on the mountain.” As such, the Tabernacle served as a tangible assurance of the bond that G-d had forged with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai.

Each of us is a Portable Tabernacle

According to the great medieval Torah commentator, Abravanel, “When the Torah speaks about the Mikdash, it is not only describing a sacred building in which worship takes place but it also has in mind the body of each human being. That is to say, each human being is a sacred sanctuary.”

Isn’t this exactly what the Shaliach Sha’ul wrote?

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from G-d, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify G-d in your body (1 Cor. 6:19-20).”

The ultimate example of this is Yeshua himself, who identified himself as an incarnation of the Temple:

“Yeshua answered them, ‘Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Judeans then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body (John 2:19-21).”

This is a powerful image! The same presence of G-d that was revealed to Moshe at Mt. Sinai, and which dwelled in the Sanctuary, resides within us. Each one of us, therefore, is a dwelling place for the presence of HaShem. May we, as followers of Yeshua, our Righteous Messiah, continue to live lives aware of G-d’s manifest presence, and may we continue to work to bring that Presence to the rest of the world – thereby affirming our calling to be a Light to the Nations.

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