Midreshet Amit


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Moving in with Hashem

By: Daniella Moffson, New York, NY

This week's parsha, Vayakhel- Pekudei, discusses the details of the Mishkan. What is so troubling is that two weeks ago, during Parshiot Trumah and Tetzaveh, we basically read the same thing. In fact, there are very few Rashis written on this parsha because we already went through this. What is the Torah trying to tell us? Why does it repeat all the details of the Mishkan again?

To understand this, we must understand the following mashal. A young couple gets married and they buy their first apartment. Everything is new and sparkly, and the excitement is overwhelming. Later on in their marriage, one of the spouses messes up, be it adultery or some form. The other spouse forgives the first one. Later they return to their home but the spark is missing. The furniture feels tarnished and the exceptionality of the home is lost. The marriage will never be the same.

This mashal helps us comprehend the Torah's repetitiveness and Bnei Yisrael's relationship with Hashem. Two weeks ago, in Parshiot Terumah and Tzaveh, when Bnei Yisrael received the instructions for how to build the Mishkan, they were engulfed in a state of excitement. Hashem said to them, "Asu li Mikdash veshechanti bitocham-" make for Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in your midst. God was going to move in with Bnei Yisrael! The people were so excited and donated so generously to a point where Moshe had to tell them to stop giving money. The mishkan was exciting and sparkly in the eyes of Bnei Yisrael.

Then we saw in last week's parsha, Ki Tisa, Bnei Yisrael sin with the golden calf. Bnei Yisrael essentially cheated on Hashem, and committed avodah zara. In the wake of Chet Hagel, Hashem at first forgives Bnei Yisrael but only to the point of deciding He won't destroy them and will still take them to the Land of Israel. But it was not a complete forgiveness. God says he is going to send an angel to lead Bnei Yisrael, rather than leading them directly Himself. He explains, "ki lo e'eleh bikirbecha ki am keshei oref atah pen achelcha baderech" - I will not go up in your midst because you are a stiff necked people, lest I have to destroy you on the way." In other words, Hashem recognizes that it is inevitable that Bnei Yisrael will sin, and if He is in their midst so that they sin in front of His face, He will have to destroy them. Thus, He feels He must send a mediator and distance Himself from the people. Hashem in essence moves to the couch. In fact, He instructs Moshe to move the ohel moed outside of the camp. Since Hashem will no longer dwell in the midst of the people, there will be no more Mishkan.

Later on, as a result of Moshe's pleading and praying, Hashem finally does fully forgive Bnei Yisrael. Hashem reveals to Moshe the Yud Gimel Midot Harachamim, the 13 Attributes of Mercy. "Hashem, Hashem, Kel rachum vechanun…" which we say repeatedly on Yom Kippur. This focuses on Hashem's mercy rather than His justice. This changes our relationship with Hashem entirely. Hashem can now dwell in our midst even if we sin in front of Him. If we are able to do full teshuva, Hashem will forgive us completely, even to the point of happily moving back in with us again. We are able to have the mishkan once more.

Back to the original question, we can now understand the importance of repeating the details of the mishkan. Bnei Yisrael almost lost having it. The repetition of every last detail emphasizes God's complete forgiveness. The Mishkan will have the same sparkle and uniqueness now after Chet Haegel as prior to the sin. We return to the Mishkan with joy that we are back to the initial plan. Unlike the spouse in the mashal, Hashem is able to fully forgive. Our relationship with Hashem is different than our relationship with man. Our relationship with man can be permanently tainted, but with Hashem it can always be renewed and brought back to the highest level of closeness.
Now as we are leaving the comfort zone of Midreshet AMIT for our Pesach break, we hope we will be able to maintain the strong relationship with God that we have built these past seven months. It is comforting to know that even if we falter a little when we leave, we know if we do teshuva, Hashem will forgive us completely and we can rebuild the connection that we have worked on. The sparkle won't fade and not all is lost; we can recommit, and God will move back in with us.

Thank you Mrs. Knoll and Rabbi Knapel for all your help!