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Building the Mishkan: An Epic Accomplishment

02/24/2022 07:13:24 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

One of humanity’s greatest accomplishments was…

Well, you might conclude that sentence in any number of ways: the pyramids, the moon-landing, the personal computer.

But I’ll vote for the Mishkan, the portable tabernacle the Israelites constructed and transported through the desert, en route to the Promised Land. The Mishkan is featured in this week’s Torah portion, Va’Yakheil.

Was the Mishkan a great feat of engineering? No, it was not.

Was it a work of innovative craftsmanship? Not particularly.

Was it huge? No, it was of modest proportions.

But it was an embodiment of something even greater: a changed heart. Its construction was the result of repentance, teshuva. And not the teshuva of a single individual, but of an entire nation.

Shortly prior to the building of the Mishkan, the Israelites crafted the Golden Calf. Then they danced around it in a lawless frenzy, violating a whole bunch of the newly received commandments. According to the Midrash, someone was even murdered in the mayhem.

Moses then caught them in the act. Punishment ensued. And then came the teshuva. It took form in this Mishkan. Now the Israelites, instead of building for ill, built for good. Instead of building a debased thing, they built a holy thing.

Again, not a mere few, but a whole lot. An entire nation contributed to the building of the Mishkan. The They gave from their hearts. They worked with their hearts. And they reoriented their hearts.

The notion that a wayward nation can change inspires me. Most nations are wayward at times – or even frequently. Or all the time. But Judaism is a religion of hope, even outlandish hope. We believe that big changes (small ones too) can happen.

Consider yourself, your family, your community – our community, our nation. Let us be realistic about how it looks now. But how might it look? How should it look? With full and dedicated hearts, let’s build it. Now that would be an epic accomplishment.


Rabbi Jeffrey Weill

Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784