Parshat Pekudei (5771)
This week’s Torah portion is the last of four dealing with the building of the Tabernacle reiterating the sum total of materials used and of the garments that the priests (Kohanim) wore.
This is very impressive but, at first glance, not so well understood. Why is G-d involved in such details?
Other religions also have their ornamented Temples and priests designed according to their inspirations. But none of them even claim that these designs were made by G-d Himself. Why is OUR G-d concerned with such petty details as the Priest’s clothes?
Here is a story I hope will answer this.
A few years ago I took my son to the Lubavitcher Rebbe for his Bar-Mitzvah. We spent most of the time in the Rebbe’s Synagogue and headquarters, but one day we took a walk in Manhattan.
We were in some museum when three well-dressed middle aged people, a woman and two men, approached us and began asking me questions; “Are you a Rabbi? Do you read the prophets?” At first I thought that the prophecies of Isaiah were manifesting before my eyes: the gentiles are turning to the Rabbis for truth!!
After a few minutes it became obvious that they were missionaries.
I wanted to get rid of them by just telling them that they will burn in Hell if they prey on Jews, (which, besides being true, always drives them away. Try it if ever confronted with Missionaries.)
But suddenly I got .. an IDEA!
I said that, instead of them asking questions if they minded if I asked them a question. When they said yes I looked them straight in the eye and asked,
“Do you believe that G-d is spiritual?”
They were bewildered. I could see that they thought that either I was joking or insane.
They looked at one another in disbelief and then back at me and said, almost in unison, “Why, of course! Certainly G-d is spiritual.”
“Ahh! Tsk Tsk!” I answered, nodding my head in pity, “I’m surprised at you! Don’t you even know the first sentence of the Bible?!”
Now they were really confused; they saw I was serious and they were starting to get nervous and lose their cool. They glanced at one another as to say, “He’s getting at something. Why didn’t they prepare us for this in missionary school?”
“Of course we do!” One of them finally answered, “The first sentence in the Bible is, ‘In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth”.
“Aha! So there you are!” I replied victoriously.
“The “heavens” means all the spiritual worlds, and the “earth” is everything physical. So you see the Bible is telling us clearly that G-d is NOT spiritual. Rather He CREATES the spiritual!
Then I got really serious, narrowed my eyes and said, pointing my finger first at them, then into my chest and then at them again, “Or, in words that even YOU can understand.....OUR G-d creates YOUR god.”
They just turned around and left as quickly as possible.
This answers our questions
The G-d of the Jews is different from the gods of the other religions.
All the other gods are spiritual while our G-d creates the spiritual. That is what I said to the missionaries.
But what I didn’t say is even more amazing:
Our G-d creates every detail of this PHYSICAL world . constantly! And this world is a bigger miracle than the spiritual worlds.
The other religions try to limit G-d to the spiritual. But Judaism announces to all mankind; “Nothing is insignificant! Every thing and person in this world is IMPORTANT to G-d every instant.”
Religion preaches that heaven is most precious. Judaism teaches that every detail in this world is infinitely more so. And G-d even reacts to our every good deed.
And that is the message of the Tabernacle and the Holy Temples that came after it; that G-d cares! And G-d reacts to what we do here.
This is what the Jews were chosen for: to bring blessing, meaning and joy into each detail of THIS world by our actions, words and thoughts. That was why the Torah was given in THIS world, why the Temples were built in THIS world and why the raising of the dead will be in THIS World.
And it all depends on us. One good word, deed or even thought can tip the scales and the Third Holy Temple will be rebuild in Jerusalem by