Tabernacle The Creation and The Sanctuary

Parshas Terumah, Feb. 23-24, 1996

In the Talmud and Medrash, the construction of the Tabernacle is compared to
 the creation of the world.

        A Medrash, referred to in the commentary Maor Veshamash, relates 
that Moshe asked G-d why a physical sanctuary would be needed.  After all, 
G-d fills heaven and earth!  G-d replied that he had created all, but could 
contract His presence into a single cubit.  The commentary questions this 
medrash at length.  

        It is known that the Ari, the great kabbalist of the modern era, 
founded much of his acclaimed new school on the concept of Tzimtzum -- 
contraction.  The entire universe came into existence through a complex 
system of veils, screens and filters.  Radiation emanating from the 
Almighty's initial creation was gradually cooled and solidified until this 
material universe could eventually come about.

        Scientists say that one of the remarkable (and less known) 
discoveries of the twentieth century is that the elements that comprise our 
very bodies come from remote stars.  Yet, if it weren't for intricate 
atmospheric barriers and vast expanses of space, those very stars would 
consume us with their intensity...

        G-d exists everywhere, but His revelation will only occur at times 
and places when and where He sees fit.  The special place dedicated and 
isolated for intense service, service requiring study and preparation -- 
becomes refined, filtered.  This is our life -- to filter, to refine, to 
dedicate ourselves to the most refined Being in the universe -- the Creator 
of all.  Infinite though He is, He is able to refine and contract His light 
to the tiniest point.

        As we have noted in the past, Einstein struggled for his last years 
to find the link between the order of the vast universe described in the 
theory of Relativity, and the apparent chaos of quantum mechanics, which 
deals with subatomic particles.  How is the microcosm contained within the 
macrocosm?

        It is precisely the relationship between the infinite and the finite 
that the kabbalists of the 15th and 16th centuries were describing...

The Rendezvous

        Another Medrash is cited by the Chassidic work, Igra D'kala:  "Until 
the marriage, the groom visits his bride at her father's house.  From the 
wedding onward, the father-in-law visits his daughter at her house...  Moshe 
had to go into the cloud at Mount Sinai to commune with the Creator.  From 
then onward, the Divine Presence would come to Moshe at the Tabernacle..."  
The Igra D'kala ties this in with the traditional interpretation of the 
verse (Exodus 25:2), " 'They shall take to me donations (for the 
Tabernacle):'  They shall take Me with their donations..."  When man extends 
himself to G-d, G-d extends Himself to man.

Straight and Curved

        Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (quoted in The Voice of the Torah) 
explained why the Tabernacle and its vessels contained straight lines and 
rectangles.  The natural world uses curves and spheres.  Man, however, takes 
the environment and orders it with his simple logic:  Make it flat, 
straight, organized.  The service in the Tabernacle would thus be to take 
the natural world, order it with our own intelligence and linear logic, and 
sublimate it, direct it back to the Creator.  The service is therefore the 
meeting of the profane and the holy:  The animal is elevated through man's 
control; then, once dedicated and refined, is returned to G-d. 

       The uniqueness of man is in his ability to relate to the most minute 
particle and the vast expanse -- nay -- the infinite.

       Indeed, just as scientists are still struggling with Einstein's 
search for the unified field theory, they are struggling to unravel the 
complexity of the human mind, with its self-organizing abilities.  Roger 
Penrose, Nobel laureate, indicates that the reality underlying quantum 
mechanics and the ability of the human mind to quickly synthesize data, are 
intimately related.  See Scientific American, Book Reviews, June 1995.  To 
us, man is the one earthy being who can perceive the Filters of the Infinite 
One (and the Unfiltered Light).  Man, as well -- being in the image of the 
Creator -- can take a multitude of things, filter and refine them, and 
elevate them for the sake of the Higher Power.