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Rabbi Levin's Blog

Pekudei

 

Some random thoughts relating to the building of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in the desert that we read about in Parshat Pekudei, and the lead up to the rebuilding of the third Temple by Moshiach.

I recently noticed a feature on my phone that tells me every Sunday how much time I spent on the phone.  This week I took another look, and saw that there are a lot of statistics in addition to the total average screen time per day.  It shows how much time I spent on networking, on reading and reference, etc., and then tells me how much time I spent on each app.  Also how many times I picked up the phone, which day I picked it up the most, and what the first uses were when I picked it up.  I suppose that somewhere out there “above” in the cloud there is more detailed data, recording every detail of every action. 

A few thousand years ago, the Mishna wrote (Pirkei Avot 2:1):  “Know what is above you; an eye that sees, an ear that hears, and all your actions are written in a book.”  One of the things that will change when Moshiach will come is that all secrets will be revealed.  The Divine life-force of the world that is now hidden from us will be revealed, the physical will no longer hide the spiritual but will reveal it.  I remember many years ago hearing the Rebbe talk about the time before Moshiach comes as a time when there will be no secrets and everything will be revealed.  This is based on the prophecies at the end of the book of Daniel, that at “the end of time” everything will be clarified and revealed.  The Rebbe said this many decades ago, and at that time we had no idea how far this would go. 

My mother told me that when she was a little kid she read a story in a book that had been written many years before that about a great sage who lived about 250 years ago, known as the Shpoler Zeide, the sage (literally grandfather) of Shpole.  In the story at some point, the sage had a woman look in a mirror, and she saw a scene unfold that he told her was from her husband’s past life.  (Reincarnation, another whole discussion.)  She was shocked, and he told her that before Moshiach comes, there will come a time when people will do something and it will be instantly seen on the other side of the world.  Modern technology has brought us to a place that we are seeing the age old prophecies about the time right before Moshiach, that used to seem like fantastic science fiction, come to life.  The same is true of science.  Recent scientific discoveries have been falling closer and closer in line with what is written in Torah and Kabbalah. 

So it’s not surprising that in this time of no secrets and of revelations of that which is hidden, our smartphones will corroborate with what the Mishna wrote, and remind us of the true “above”, where in fact we are accountable for everything we do.  Now the question is what are we doing about it?

Vayakhel

 

At the beginning of the forming of the Jewish nation, shortly after the Torah was given at Mount Sinai and while the Jews were in the desert, Moshe gathered the entire nation together to tell them about building a Mishkan – sanctuary – as a place for Hashem’s revelation.  Moshe spoke to the people many times.  He taught them the Torah and guided them in all matters of life, including preparing them to build the Land of Israel and create a legacy for all time.  But it was rare that he gathered the entire nation together.  This was one of those times.  Building a Mishkan is not just about a house.  The whole idea of the Mishkan, a portable sanctuary that travelled with the Jews in the desert, and later the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, is to bring the presence of Hashem into the world; to transform the wood, gold and other physical materials into a receptacle for holiness.  This is the purpose of the entire creation, and this is our mission on earth, to harness the physical and use it for holy purposes, or in the words of Chassidus, to make a home for Hashem below.  This is something that every one of us must do.  There is not a single person, scholar, simpleton or in between, who does not have the privilege and responsibility to do this work.  Moshe therefore gathered the entire nation together to tell them about this great Mitzvah, to emphasize this fact that applies to everyone. 

I was ruminating about this the other day on my trip back from Hawaii where I went for the Bris of my grandson.  As I wrote last week, my daughter and her husband, Rabbi Levi and Fraidy Gerlitzkty run a Chabad House on the Big Island.  In a place with very few residents in general, and certainly very few Jews, people came together to celebrate this mitzvah that represents the bond that we have with Hashem.  I was thinking about the fact that just as at the beginning of our nation, we all needed to be gathered by our leader Moshe to include every one of us in the Mishkan, so now, at the cusp of the beginning of the new era of Moshiach, the leader of our generation, the Rebbe, set out to gather every Jew to prepare for the final redemption and the building of the eternal third Temple.  The difference is that Moshe physically gathered a captive audience surrounded by miraculous clouds in the desert, and the Rebbe had to reach out to spiritually gather individuals scattered literally all over the world.  From New York to Palo Alto to Hawaii to the Amazon rain forest and the farthest places in Africa and Asia, the Rebbe’s emissaries are doing the job of “gathering” all Jews, as we approach the physical in-gathering that will be completed when Moshiach comes.

Another event that happened this week drove this point home.  The CTeen Shabbaton brought together Jewish teens from all over the world to celebrate their Jewish identity.  What an incredible show of Jewish pride in today’s world where many Jewish teens find it difficult to navigate the new anti-Semitic environment.  For many of these teens who have no formal Jewish education, this was a life-altering event.  You can see a little of the program here, it’s worth watching.  Vayakhel is the name of the Parsha.  It means “He [Moshe] gathered.”  We are doing it again, this time under more difficult circumstances, but it is just as important.  You can be part of it.  Reach out to another Jew and tell them that they are part of it, that they have a blessed mission.  Every single one is important.  They may not know and might very well be thrilled to find out.

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