- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On February 8, 2019
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we head toward Shabbat.
It is a curious explanation.
Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)
Let me explain. We have moved from redemption as slaves in Egypt to the acquisition of Torah at Mt. Sinai and, in this week’s Torah portion, we build a traveling sanctuary called the Mishkan.
But, the reason stated above by the Eternal God for this building project does not make sense. Why would God instruct the creation of a place, but not dwell there? Wouldn’t it be better to build a sanctuary so that God could dwell in it? The Hebrew word, mishkan, actually means dwelling place; and sanctuary, as the commentator, Ibn Ezra noted, “is a sanctified, holy place…of the holy God.”
So then where would God dwell? The Chasidic tradition has an answer. God dwells wherever we let God in.
Earlier in the book of Genesis when Jacob stopped for the night and dreamt of God on a ladder ascending to the heaven, he woke up to realize that he was right where God dwelled, too. “This is the abode of God!” He exclaimed! It was the ultimate discovery that God dwelt with him right there.
So how does God dwell among us? One possible response is prayer. The very act of calling upon that which is beyond us but also part of us contains divinity. Martin Buber wrote, “we do not even know how we are supposed to pray. All we do is call for help because of the need of the moment. But what the soul expresses is spiritual need, only we have no words to convey its meaning. That is why, when we ask God to hear our call for help, we also beg the One who knows what is hidden to hear the silent cry of the soul.”[i]
The building of the Mishkan brought the community together to surround it as it traveled with them throughout the wilderness. God’s presence also accompanied them when they called out in prayer or their soul silently reached out. God was there, and here now, surrounding us, moving with us, and through us in all that we pray and hope for. Each of us, then, has the ability to create the dwelling place for God in whatever way we may open our hearts and reach out in prayer.
Qabbalat Shabbat begins at 6:00 p.m. in our Mishkan with lots of joyful and reflective prayer. If you are unable to join us, please live stream here. Soul Food Friday for young adults in their 20s & 30s, begins at 7:00 p.m. tonight, please register here.
We gather in the morning for a rousing Torah Study at 9:00 a.m.
As always, I look forward to your reflections and comments HERE.
[i] Reflections on Themes of theTorah, Rabbi Chaim Stern, pg. 127