April 20, 2024
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Feeling the Mishkan Effect on Shabbos

I have toured many cities and parts of Eretz Yisrael: Teveria, Tzfas and the Chermon Mountain in the North; Ein Gedi, the Dead Sea, Mitzpeh Ramon and Be’er Sheva in the South. Not to mention the cities along the coast—Ashdod, Ashkelon, Bat Yam, Herzliya, Netanya, Haifa, Acco and many places in the middle. It occurred to me that I never went to Shiloh, where the Mishkan stood after Bnei Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael. Why not? The Mishkan stood there for 369 years, but there’s no trace of the original Mishkan. A tour guide showed my friend some tiny pieces of broken pottery shards around there, believed to be from people who visited the Mishkan. There is also a model of the Mishkan, but nothing of the original structure.

Parshas Terumah discusses the construction of the Mishkan. The Torah describes the wood used for the beams of the Mishkan as “atzei shittim omedim—cedar wood which is standing.” The Gemara asks what is the meaning of “standing wood?” One explanation is that the Mishkan will remain standing forever. But clearly, the Mishkan is not standing today and has not been standing since it was decommissioned and hidden when the Beis Hamikdash was built.

What does the Gemara mean that the Mishkan will stand for eternity? Some commentators explain that although the Mishkan is hidden now, it will be fully restored when the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt. The Mishkan will be stationed nearby the Beis Hamikdash, thereby giving it an eternal status.

Rav Gedalia Schorr gives a different explanation. Although the Mishkan is no longer physically standing, the concept of the Mishkan remains standing forever … through the laws of Shabbos. The 39 melachos (activities) that are prohibited on Shabbos are learned from the melachos done during the construction of the Mishkan.

There is a deep connection between the melachos that are prohibited on Shabbos and the actions used in building the Mishkan. Rabbeinu Bachya notes that there is a similar word used in the completion of the world and in the completion of the materials needed to construct the Mishkan. The Gemara says when Hashem created the world, it kept expanding until Friday afternoon, when Hashem said, “Dai—Enough!” In this way, Hashem’s presence would remain only somewhat concealed—giving man free choice, either to see Hashem in Creation or not.

Had Hashem not stopped expansion immediately prior to Shabbos, Hashem was concerned that due to the increasing physicality of Creation, He would have been too concealed to be recognized in the world. The word “Shabbos” means to stop and rest. Hashem stopped concealing His presence on Shabbos.

In the construction of the Mishkan, the same wording is used, but for an opposite purpose. “The work was daiyam—enough.” The concept of the building of the Mishkan was to create a place in the world in which Hashem’s presence would be felt by all who would come there. This too could not expand too much, or else Hashem’s presence would be so clear that man would not have free choice.

Thus, we see the dichotomy. The world conceals the existence of Hashem and the Mishkan reveals the existence of Hashem. But, Shabbos shares the same property as the Mishkan: It is the day that Hashem removes an element of His concealment and gives us the opportunity to feel His presence more closely.

Although we do not have the physical structure of the Mishkan anymore, we still have the concept of the revelation of Hashem each Shabbos. A person might assume that the Mishkan was a greater revelation of Hashem than Shabbos; however, the following halacha indicates the opposite. The Torah instructs that the building of the Mishkan must not take place on Shabbos. Keeping Shabbos, in fact, supersedes the construction of the Mishkan. We, therefore, see that the revelation of Hashem on Shabbos is greater than that which emanated from the Mishkan.

On Shabbos, there’s no need to build a physical place for Hashem to rest. Hashem resides within each of us. By keeping the laws of Shabbos and refraining from the 39 melachos that were used to build the Mishkan, one connects to the day that reveals Hashem.

Every Shabbos, we feel the fulfillment of the Mishkan. Each time we abstain from a melacha on Shabbos, we are bringing Hashem more into our lives. Every Jewish home that keeps Shabbos becomes a Mishkan. May we all deeply feel Hashem’s presence and soon see the day when the Mishkan will stand again.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch, where he leads a multi-level Gemara learning program. PTI has attracted adult Jews of all ages from all over northern New Jersey for its learning programs. Fees are not charged, but contributions are always welcome. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com.

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