You shall make the beams for the Mishkan of acacia wood, upright.

In this week’s parsha, Hashem commands the b’nei Yisrael to build a Mishkan, saying “V’asu Li mikdash veshachanti b’socham”, “Make for Me a sanctuary and I will dwell within it (besocham)“. Although the Mishkan was a single structure, the word “Besocham”, “and I will dwell within it”, is plural, which, rendered literally, reads, “and I will dwell within them.” Our sages teach that the reason for this plural form is that in addition to dwelling in the physical Mishkan, Hashem  intends to dwell “Besocham – b’soch kol echad v’echad” – in the thoughts, speech, and actions of every Jewish soul. This idea echoes the foundational sentiment of the Midrash Tanchuma which teaches that one of the primary reasons for the creation of our world is that Hashem desired a “dirah b’tachtonim”, a dwelling place in the lower realms. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov writes that the primary revelation of Hashem’s greatness is brought about when those furthest from holiness open their hearts to Hashem and His Torah. (Likutei Moharan 10) When we make the effort to turn the mundanity of our lives into a chariot for the Shechina by seeing every facet of our existence as part and parcel of a broad mission: “avda d’Kudsha Brich Hu”, servants of the Infinite One, the illumination of these lowly levels by the light of Hashem demonstrates the extent of its awesome reach and the magnitude of its infinite strength.

The Degel Machaneh Ephraim (Terumah, “V’asisah es”) reveals a deeply relevant message hidden within the commandment our ancestors received to form kerashim, beams, for the Mishkan. He teaches that the word “Keresh”, beam, has the same letters as “Kesher”, a knot. With these words, Hashem is teaching our holy nation the manner in which we may transform our lives into a Sanctuary for His Presence. This Sanctuary is to be constructed using “kerashim – kesharim”, an expression of the unification produced when the disparate elements of life are approached as a range of diverse means toward a singular goal. When a Jew lives a tachlis-oriented life, all of his thoughts, words, and actions are bound together with the unifying thread (kesher) of a common purpose. Such a person is “tocho k’baro”; every level of his experience is permeated with the light of the Shechinah he is devoted to revealing in the world. This tzaddik’s eating, sleeping, leisure time, and mundane responsibilities join ranks with his Torah study, prayer, and mitzvah observance – bound together as representing various means toward the closeness with Hashem he so desperately seeks. Instead of living a life of “sheker”, permeated with the falsehood of fleeting and meaningless multiplicity, his life is a “kesher”, a perfectly unified structure of holiness; “mikshah achas zahav.”

Based on this idea, perhaps we may suggest another reason for the switch from the singular “Mishkan” to the plural “b’socham.” Perhaps Hashem is teaching us that the Sanctuary of divine service founded upon “kerashim – kesharim”, a unified perspective on all of life which seeks to elevate every aspect of the human experience to the loftiest levels, will enable His Oneness to become revealed even “b’socham”, among the disparate multiplicity of this world so commonly engaged with in a way of “sheker”, falsehood and meaninglessness. When a Jew begins to approach life with the underlying intention of creating for Hashem a “Dirah b’tachtonim”, the multifarious areas of his day to day existence become bound together as a unified Mishkan, permeated with the Oneness of Hashem.

When a Jew lives life with the underlying goal of creating a Sanctuary for Hashem’s Oneness in the lower realm, a bond of unified elevation runs through all of his thoughts, words, and actions.

Rebbe Ephraim of Sudlykov
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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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