G-d is always wherever we are. Unchanging from place to place, year to year, era to era, eon to eon.

Why, then, did G-d require that we build a “mishkan” — a “dwelling-place” for the Divine Presence?

Because our awareness of and relationship with G-d are constantly changing, based on our thoughts, words, and acts. Just as a copper coin placed on our eye can obscure the brilliant light of the sun, our minds can obscure the ever-presence of G-d in and around us.

The Mishkan was G-d’s gift to us — a place where we could welcome G-d back into our lives.

Surrounding the Mishkan were the tribes of the B’nai Yisrael. Out there, we might be vaguely “aware” of G-d’s Presence in the Mishkan, but our thoughts and feelings would be filled mostly with our daily concerns.

As we approach the Mishkan, our attention on G-d would grow somewhat, but our concerns would still be mainly worldly ones.

As we come to the Mishkan’s entrance, and especially if we enter the hatzeir (courtyard), G-d’s Presence begins to rival our worldly concerns in importance.

Although a knowledgeable  person might perform the initial part of a sacrifice, it’s mainly done by a kohen (priest). Unlike what the builders of the Tower of Babel believed, we can’t actually enter G-d’s Presence by any act of our own; we must connect heart-to-heart, soul-to-Soul; unify our “self” with G-d’s “Self.” This means a surrender of the will, rather than an assertion of it. As the kohen “takes over,” we become silent witnesses of the procedure.

The kohen then enters the Oheil — the Tent of “Meeting.” Meeting whom? Meeting G-d.

In there, worldly concerns still exist to a very minor degree — just as G-d’s Presence exists to us in a very minor degree outside the Mishkan. The opposite is true, too. To the same extent that worldly concerns predominate in our daily life, G-d’s Presence predominates in the Heichal; the “Holy Place” — the outer room of the Tent. To this, we are even more “silent witnesses” than before. It’s no longer something we even see with our eyes (from outside the Tent) at all. We simply know in our hearts what’s happening.

Finally, when the Kohen Gadol enters the Kadosh K’doshim; the Holy of Holies — the inner room of the Tent — he’s aware of nothing other than G-d’s Presence. Wordly concerns — the world itself, in fact — no longer have any importance for him. His transcendental awareness reverberates in the entire community, raising everyone and everthing spiritually.

As we contemplate the Kohen Gadol entering the Holy of Holies, we transcend with him, entering the Divine Presence within ourselves.

Your Joy is wine
intoxicating me.
In troubles,
I smile, silent;
My heart quiet in me.

The Joy is Yours, not mine;
You, not me.

Immersed in You, fear and sorrow vanish:
Sea-spray on hot sand,
Shadow in light.

How can I love You,
And not declare that You love me,
In all my heart,
In all my soul,
In all my life?

Elders say                                                 
Your love is Your law,
Your kiss: Your commandment.

Mine is an infant’s heart:
If I forget, even for a moment,
Only You are giving me my life and my world,
I cry, “Where are You? Where are You?”
Let this, then, be Your kiss:
That I know only You. [1]


[1]  © 2003 by Eli Mallon