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Tuesday, Shevat 28, 5778 / February 13, 2018


In this week's Parsha, Terumah, G-d commands the Jewish people to construct the Mishkan (Tabernacle). G-d says, "V'asu li Mikdash v'shachanti b'tocham" - "And they shall make Me a Mikdash (sanctuary) so that I shall dwell among them."


The Mishkan would travel with them, during their forty years in the desert. Before proceeding on a journey, they would dismantle the Mishkan and re-assemble it in the place where they camped. King Solomon later built a permanent House for G-d - the Beth HaMikdash in Jerusalem which stood for 410 years. The Second Temple stood 420 years. The temporary sanctuary in the desert, was called, Mishkan. The structure built by King Solomon, was called Beth HaMikdash.


Q.   In this Parsha the Torah refers to the Mishkan also as "Mikdash." Why?


A.   Rabbi Yaakov Baal HaTurim gives an amazing insight. He explains that while speaking of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) the Torah is also hinting to the Beth HaMikdash. The six Hebrew letters of the word "V'shachanti" (I shall dwell) can be arranged in two ways. In the first way it spells "I will rest 410".  In the second way it spells "And the second 420!"  Thus, according to Rabbi Yaakov, the Torah, written five hundred years before the building of the First Beth HaMikdash and close to 1000 years before the second one, alludes to the two Holy Temples and the number of years they will stand!"


Our sages note that the Torah does not say "I shall dwell in it," i.e. in the Mishkan.  Rather,"I shall dwell among them," which means, "Within each and every one of them!" Through building the Mishkan and Beth HaMikdash, G-d comes to rest and dwell within every Jew.


According to the Midrash, when Moshe heard G-d's request to build for Him a "dwelling place," he couldn't understand it. Moshe said, "You fill the entire heaven and earth! How can we build a structure which can contain you? How can a mortal being build a dwelling place for You?"


G-d replied, "I do not ask that you build a sanctuary according to My ability, but rather according to yours. If you will do the best you can that will suffice and I will rest my glory amongst you." This teaches us that each one has the capability to make this world a dwelling place for G-d's presence.


Rabbi Zusia of Anipoli was a disciple of the Great Rabbi Ber of Mezritch.  There are many wonderful stories about Rabbi Zusia's humility and kindness.  Rabbi Zusia said, "When I pass on and come before the heavenly court, I am not worried that they may ask, 'Why didn't you accomplish in your lifetime as much as our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, Yaakov or Moshe.'  I will simply answer, 'Who am I to be able to be like any of them?' But if I am asked, 'Zusia, why didn't you accomplish Zusia’s full potential?' Then I will have no answer."