The Sanctuary of Testimony - פקודי

Thursday, 14 March, 2024 - 10:41 pm

The Sanctuary of Testimony 

For the first time since the introduction of the Mishkan, the temple that the Jewish people constructed in the desert, the Torah presents the term "Mishkan of testimony". In the opening verse of the final portion of the book of Exodus, we read:  

These are the numbers of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, which were counted at Moses' command; [this was] the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the Kohen. 

Rashi addresses the word "testimony" and explains: 

the Mishkan of the Testimony: [The Mishkan] was testimony for Israel that the Holy One, blessed is He, forgave them for the incident of the calf, for He caused His Shechinah to rest among them [in the Mishkan].

The construction of the Mishkan `was more than just a story of building a place of worship. The Torah devotes so much attention to every detail of the temple because it expresses the triumph of the marriage between G-d and the Jewish people, which survived the terrible betrayal of the golden calf. Underlying every detail of the home is a story of love and forgiveness; the building of the home is testimony that, indeed, G-d and the Jewish people are reunited. 

Idolatry at its core is the notion of dichotomy, that there is a space devoid of the Divine presence. Idolatry argues that G-d is far too great to be concerned with the physical world, leaving a vacuum where the forces of nature are in control. The Mishkan was a testimony "that the Holy One, blessed is He, forgave them for the incident of the calf" because the Mishkan is an antidote to the sin of idolatry, the Mishkan is a testimony that the infinite G-d is present within a physical home constructed by mundane worldly materials. 

We, too, are engaged in creating a metaphorical Mishkan for G-d. We bridge the superficial dichotomy between the physical and spiritual by using the physical blessings of our lives as a conduit and vessel to bring the Divine presence into our own life and environment, ultimately transforming the entire world into a home of the Divine. 

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe, Likkutei Sichos 1 Pekudei 


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