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The Cloud on the Tent of Meeting - פקודי

Thursday, 3 March, 2022 - 7:31 pm


The Cloud on the Tent of Meeting 

The final chapter of the book of Exodus describes the culmination of a great national effort to build a temple that would house the presence of G-d. Finally, after months of donating, building and anticipation, the chapter concludes with the description of how the Divine presence rested upon the temple: 

He {Moses} set up the courtyard all around the Mishkan and the altar, and he put up the screen at the entrance to the courtyard; and Moses completed the work.

And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the L-rd filled the Mishkan.

Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud rested upon it and the glory of the Lord filled the Mishkan. (Exodus 40:33-35)

The Jewish people built the temple in order to sense the closeness to G-d; to witness how He would dwell in their midst. Yet, surprisingly, the book ends, not with the excitement of revelation but with concealment - Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because of the cloud. 

Chassidic Philosophy explains that sometimes “concealment” is, in fact, superior to “revelation” because “concealment” can represent the level that is far beyond our comprehension and our ability to perceive. This explains why the book concludes with concealment, because the “cloud” represents the essence of G-d that transcends our understanding. 

Nevertheless, the third book of the Torah, Leviticus, begins with an expression of revelation and closeness: “And He {G-d} called to Moses, and the L-rd spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying.” This expresses the Chassidic principle that when revelation follows concealment, the revelation is far more profound. It is a revelation of the essence, which was previously concealed. 

This pattern, where revelation follows concealment because it represents a far more profound revelation, is reflected in our life as well. We all occasionally experience challenge, confusion, and spiritual darkness, when we feel distant from G-d and distant from our true potential. We must realize that the purpose of the darkness is to enable us to reach a greater awareness and revelation when we overcome the “concealment ” and return to a place of inspiration and positivity. Because, as explained, the light that follows darkness is a far more profound level of revelation. 

Perhaps this is the overarching theme of the Book of Exodus. The unprecedented revelation at Mount Sinai and at the Tabernacle follow the darkness of Egyptian slavery because the darkness of slavery is an opportunity to reach the far more profound revelation, the revelation that follows the concealment. 

Adapted from the Rebbe’s teachings, Lekutei Sichos Pekudei vol. 1. 

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