ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם

“Let them make a holy place for Me, and I’ll dwell among them…” [1]

“And thei schulen make a seyntuarie to me, and Y schal dwelle in the myddis of hem…” [2]

The “Mishkan” was the portable “sanctuary” or “tabernacle” that the B’nai Yisrael — the Israelites — carried with them while wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. After they’d entered the land, it remained the central place of worship until the building of the First Temple.

“Make a holy place” — can people make a place “holy?” Not really. Only G-d is “holy.”  However, removing from a place anything that would mar the expression of G-d’s holiness, we can allow the actual Divine Holiness to become palpable there.

The literal details — the “p’shat” — of the Mishkan are of central importance. A person who understands the Mishkan will better understand both the synagogue and Jewish observance itself.

But each of us is a “mishkan,” too.

G-d is never separate from us. Our own innermost soul is the Peace and Bliss of G-d.

The expression of these and other Divine qualities can become obstructed by our own contrary words, acts, thoughts and feelings. Obstructed, but never erased from our essence.

Rabbi Morris Lichtenstein enumerated 5 such obstructions or “hindrances”: Worry, Fear, Grief, Envy and Anger. [3] Other Jewish teachers have systematized this in their own ways, but their intent has been the same.

For example, the rabbis’ teaching, “Whoever is in a rage is as if he [or she] worshiped idols,” [4] means precisely the same thing: G-d’s Peace in us becomes obscured to us when we excessively and inappropriately demand that we have our own way [anger can have positive value, when used appropriately and moderately].

Our work is to become masters of whatever obstructs or disturbs the Divine Calmness and Happiness that’s already ours. As we do, these and other Divine qualities will emanate in and through us, just as the Shechinah did in the Mishkan.

First, we seek to experience the good in G-d, especially through meditation and prayer, until it’s an unshakeable foundation of our thinking.

As for those things — Worry, Fear, Grief, Envy, Anger, etc. — that disturb us: we don’t ignore, deny or repress them. Instead, we admit them, face them and neutralize them by changing our thinking — with G-d’s Help, as always.

We examine our responses to things that happen to us every day, and replace those that don’t help us radiate the Peace and Happiness in us with ones that do, to the extent that we can. We leave the rest to G-d.

Make your life a Mishkan!

“Do you view every single life situation as an opportunity to grow and improve?”  [5]

________

[1] Sh’mot (Exodus) 25:8; Mishkan illustration c. 2008 by Rabbi Eli Mallon
[2] Wycliffe translation (14th c.); included purely out of my fondness for Middle English
[3] Lichtenstein, Rabbi Morris; “Hindrances”; Jewish Science and Health; pp. 183-226
[4] Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady; Igeret HaKodesh 25; Tanya; p. 535 [citing: Zohar I:27b, III:179a & 234b; Rambam, Hilchot De’ot II:3; Talmud — Shabbat 105b & Nedarim 22b]
[5] Pliskin, Rabbi Zelig; Gateway to Self-Knowledge; p. 459