EARTH – THE HOUSE OF HASHEM
Klal Yisrael at Sinai attained such a high spiritual level they were like malachim. They proclaimed the secret of the malachim which wasנעשה ונשמע . but our Chazal tell us (Tanchumah Naso 16) נתאוה הקב”ה להיות לו דירה בתחתונים Hashem desired a dwelling in the lower worlds. This is alluded to with the first letter of the Torah ביתwhich translates as dwelling. The lower worlds refer to this world which is a concoction of materialism, earthly cravings, falsehood and war. To proclaim Hashem as King when everything is clear and points in that direction, where there exists no struggle against the forces that contest it, is a very big compromise. Hashem does not receive any glory and honor from it. However, if the dwelling place is to be constructed amidst the murk and mud, with no boss breathing down one’s neck every second, and yet man rises over his perverted environment and chooses instead to follow the dim eternal light of truth that shines through the cracks, such a Man constructed dwelling gives Hashem nachas, and really makes Him into a glorified ruler. Such a dwelling has to have been built with blood, sweat, tears, tefillos and great sacrifice.The Tanna D’bay Ailiyahu states that when Am Yisrael proclaimed נעשה ונשמע, Hashem responded with ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם. Hashem does not want a dwelling place high above with the malachim even if Yisrael became malachim. Hashem desires a resting place amongst the Yisrael on earth. The Mishkan is to be constructed from earthly materials gold, silver, copper, wood, wool, flax, animal skins etc. The wood should beעצי שיטים which allude to שטות , sin, folly, and immorality. They represent the mud of the cultures who promote licentiousness, immoral conduct and the license to legitimize sensuous unbridled cravings. The Mishkan was constructed with קרשים, the word קרש sharing the same letters of שקר falsehood, lies, and dishonesty. Its covering on top was from תחש skin, a type of undomesticated animal that appeared in creation just for the purpose of building the Mishkan. The letters of תחש also spell שחת destruction, the same term used to describe the generation of the Flood. All this indicates that Hashem desires an earthly dwelling place amidst all the chaos, decadence and physicality rather than to reside with the malachim in Shamayim.
The Torah tells us that aבריח התיכון a middle pole went through all the קרשים in all the directions. In order to accomplish such a feat, it had to miraculously be able to bend in all the directions. We are told that this “middle” pole corresponded to Yaakov Avinu who represented the “middle” middah between Avraham’s middas chesed and Yitzchak’s middas gevurah. Yaakov was known as the bechir Avos, the choice of our Avos for his bed, his children, were complete in contrast to Yishmael and Esav. The Baalei Mussar point out that the reason why Yaakov was called the choice of the Avos was because he was not challenged with the big tests like his father and grandfather. Avraham underwent Ten Tests. Yitzchak passed the test of the Akaidah by sacrificing his life. With Yaakov Avinu we do not find any major tests at all. What we do find is that he guarded himself from the influences of Esav and Lavan. It was rather the everyday struggles that Yaakov was involved in. עם לבן גרתי Yaakov lived with Lavan the rasha whose entire ambition was to murder him spiritually and nevertheless Yaakov did not allow his influence to detract from the fulfilling of the תריג mitzvos.
Sometimes it is easier to make one single big sacrifice rather than to constantly fight the barrage of the daily small battles. From the fact that it is Yaakov who is the connector throughout all the kerashim indicates that the method to make a dwelling place for Hashem is by the day to day challenges: in the work place, on the streets we walk, and by saying NO to the perverted culture that we live in. יעקב‘s name has the root ofעקב which means heel. The heel of the human touches the earth. Yaakov’s tests were earthly in the sense that they involved the day to day preservation of Torah and mitzvos coupled with small sacrifices. Everyone has theirד’ אמות . One takes it with him wherever he goes. He must ensure that in it resides Hashem by sanctifying his space. How does one accomplish this?
These planks that formed the wall of the Mishkan had two wooden feet extending from them which were placed into two fitting sockets calledאדנים . The Mishkan consisted of a total of 100 sockets. The Chidushei Harim says that these 100 sockets corresponded to the minimum 100 berochos one is obligated to recite every day. Every beracha is window through which one can let Hashem enter and be a real part of his daily routine. It is an ongoing opportunity whereupon one recognizes that Hashem is the Master אדון of the universe. By making 100 berachos a day we bring Hashem into the mundane and the smallstuff that makes the simple Jew into a big Jew. It is from these 100 berachos that causes the Shechinah to dwell within Man.
The passuk saysכל פעל ה’ למענהו (Mishlei 16,4). Everything in the world is for Hashem. The Sfas Emes explains (Pekudai 652) that the word למענהוcan be interpreted with two other meanings; one as מעון, a dwelling place and secondly, it can refer to the act of giving testimony as the passuk saysלא תענה ברעך. We find that the existence of Am Yisrael is for the sole purpose of being a living testimony through their daily conduct that Hashem is the Master of the world. The passuk attests to this goal when it declares (Yeshaya 43,10) אתם עדי Hashem says that you are my witnesses. By living virtuously and righteously and making a Kiddush Hashem in a world of darkness, it testifies that Hashem dwells on earth within us and is the driving force in our daily lives. Our task as Hashem’s people is to make a dwelling for Hashem here on this earth by replacing falsehood with truth, selfishness and greed with chesed and tzedakah, ignorance with Torah, war with shalom, and the body with neshamah.
The Mishkan which is called the משכן העדות, the dwelling of testimony, was constructed from all the testimonies of Am Yisrael, all of the windows which they opened allowing Hashem to dwell on earth. Our personal Mishkan of ושכנתי בתוכם that we are constantly building today and every day, is being constructed from the summation of one’s small recognitions of Hashem to which he or she expresses here and there, with the two or three word lines of ברוך ה’ , the אם ירצה ה’, בעזרת ה’ and theחסדי ה’ that transforms the world of nature into a dwelling place for Hashem.