mishkan + illustrator 1b

AS we’re currently reading a series of parshiyot that have to do with the Mishkan, where the korbanot (offerings) were done, I invoke a teaching of the “Ramchal” — Rabbi Mosheh Chayim Luzzatto — to show that not only can the “korban” (especially as combined with the Amidah) lift us to what  human consciousness should have been; it gives us a glimpse and model of the ultimate goal of our spiritual growth.

“If one sanctifies himself [or herself] with the Holiness of his Creator, even his physical actions come to partake of Holiness. This is illustrated by the eating of the sacrificial offerings…in relation to which our Sages…said, ‘The priests eat and the owners are atoned for’ [Pesachim 59b).” [1]

The trait of “Holiness” is the final stage of those on which Luzzatto commented. It’s the goal of them all.

First, the Ramchal describes the cognitive experience. Although he doesn’t mention Adam and Havah explicitly, what he’s describing was true of them, too:

“One who is Holy…such a person is as one walking before G-d in the land of the living [i.e. just as did Adam and Havah, before eating the prohibited fruit!] here in this world.” [2]

This resembles our experience in worship, but is distinguished in two ways:
1 — The experience isn’t limited to times of worship alone.
2 — It’s a permanent, rather than an intermittent, experience

“Such a person is himself [or herself] considered a tabernacle, a sanctuary, an altar. [3]

“The Divine Presence dwells with the Holy as it did in the [Mishkan and] Temple.” [4]

“…the food and drink of the Holy person is elevated and is considered as if it had actually been sacrificed upon the altar [in the Mishkan/Temple].” [5]

In Yogic and Buddhist tradition, this is “Enlightenment” (far different from the meaning of that word in 18th century Europe and thereafter). Spiritual “enlightenment” is the ultimate step in the process that begins with meditation, yoga, etc.:

“When enlightenment happens, the organism does not become perfect. It is whole and the whole includes both opposites. Seeking perfections is the basic, primary folly and the jnani [“philosophical yogi”] understands that. That is the basis of the understanding. Whatever happens is part of the functioning of Totality.” [6]

“…part of the functioning of Totality” — another way of saying: G-d is One and All, and all that happens is the Will of G-d, the One and All working in G-d, the One and All.

Is this an arcane, “mystical” state — never to be part of ordinary human experience? Much the opposite. Torah says that this was the state of Adam and Eve in Eden, and the state to which all human history is gradually moving.

It is the inescapable goal of human psychological and emotional growth:

“It seems that it is the purpose of evolution now to replace an image of perfection with the concept of completeness or wholeness. Perfection suggests something all pure, with no blemishes, dark spots or questionable areas. Wholeness includes the darkness but combines it with the light elements into a totality more real and whole than any ideal. This is an awesome task, and the question before us is whether mankind is capable of this effort and growth. Ready or not, we are in that process.” [7]

The Ramchal shows us that the Mishkan was not only the place where we experienced G-d’s Presence. It was the place that returned that Presence to us as it had been in Eden, and as it ultimately will be throughout the world, for all people.

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[1] Luzzatto, R. Mosheh Chayim; The Path of the Just; Shraga Silverstien, trans.; Feldheim Publishers, 1966; p. 329
[2] ibid.
[3] ibid.
[4] p. 331
[5] ibid.
[6] Ramesh Balsekar (1917-2009), Indian Advaita master, in Consciousness Speaks; see
http://personal-authenticity-project.com/personal-authenticity-expresses-wholeness-goodness
[7] Robert A. Johnson (1921-present), American Jungian Analyst, in He; see
http://personal-authenticity-project.com/personal-authenticity-expresses-wholeness-goodness