Connecting Our Inner Visions – Terumah 5777

אני מאמין באמונה שלמה בביאת המשיח, ואף על פי שיתמהמה, עם כל זה אחכה לו בכל יום שיבוא                                                I believe with full faith in the coming of the Mashiach, and although she tarries, nonetheless I will wait every day that he will come

My teacher, Rav Meir, explains that the act of completing the Mishkan is parallel to creation.  While in creation God ordered the universe such that we could live within it, so too, in assembling the Mishkan, the Israelites make in the world a place for God.  For almost 2000 years, the dream of rebuilding the Mishkan has characterized the iconography of the coming of the Mashiach.  When he finally comes, we will rebuild the Temple – or is it, if we rebuild the Temple, he will finally come?  Either way, the central question has long remained, what would define such a world?  What would the Mishkan look like?

Even with the detailed descriptions given in parashat Terumah, I am still left pondering the true appearance of the mishkan and its many implements.  Everything about their design is outlined – length, height, width, materials, craftsmanship, and ornamentation.  Yet the more detail the text provides, the more my imagination runs wild.  Sure, the Menorah is supposed to have almond blossom decorations, but do they point up, sideways, down, or diagonal?!  How big are they?  Do they stick out past the width of the branch?  Are they evenly spaced or asymmetric?  

Amidst my increasingly multifaceted bewilderment, God repeatedly tells Moses, “See and make according to the patterns that you are being shown on the mountain” (Shemot 25:40).

Much like instructions for building the Mishkan, we all share the Torah – a blueprint for living our lives.  Yet, through those shared instructions, God has shown each and every one of us a unique vision for bringing about a better future.  Details of a brighter tomorrow, that inner image of the Mishkan, our conceptualization of a world with Mashiach – differs for us all.  

Building a perfect future together may therefore seem futile.  After all, the picture engraved on the back of my eyelids surely varies from, if not contradicts, yours.  That apparent contradiction, however, is the essential project of making a dwelling place for God.  

A Mishkan must be made in parts.  

If, in place of viewing our visions as perfectly whole, we instead sew loops to their edges (Shemot 26:4) – we will leave room to clasp my limitations to yours.  We will alleviate the burden of feeling that I alone must incorporate and cover everything.  We will, by design, invite diversity into our structure.  There will then be room for all those “whose heart so moves them” (Shemot 25:2) to add their dreams to the collective.  If we can come together in making our singular goal unity, wholeness, and peace – each part will lose its beginning and end, and in doing so, “The Mishkan will become One” (Shemot 26:6).  

I pray that we are all granted the diligence to live by the teaching of Shlomo Katz.  Commenting on the song at the top of this post, he says, we should not simply wait (לחכות) for the Mashiach.  Rather, we must every day and in every action emulate (לחקות) what the Mashiach means in our eyes.  If we believe with a full faith in the essential part we must add, together we will surely build a better world.

Shabbat Shalom

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