In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Terumah, G-d commands the Israelites to build a sanctuary in the desert, called the Mishkan. Although at first glance, the sanctity of this new tabernacle might seem similar to the holiness of Mt. Sinai, the truth is that the two could not be more different. The Mishkan is a space that the Jewish people created. It became holy because it was a place on Earth where G-d’s presence could uniquely be felt. While other similar places, even Mt. Sinai, which is the very place where the 10 commandments were given, was only holy because of the connection to G-d, but after the presence left, it wasn’t holy anymore.
To make the Tabernacle a holy site, the people of Israel had to follow every regimented step G-d commanded, from making an ark, the Aron HaKodesh to house the 10 commandments, to the Menorah, and the Shulchan, the gold-plated table for the Lechem HaPanim (showbread). Additionally, there were very specific instructions on how to handle the bread, oils, and flour.
Every word and letter in this Parsha is an instruction. It is an instruction for building something greater than ourselves and for building something that lasts for generations. Although this holy site must have been an incredible place to visit and feel the presence of G-d, what are we to do nowadays? How are we expected to feel G-d’s presence when we don’t have this connection site at our disposal? In the Pirkei Avot, the sages write that while we can’t offer sacrifices at the temple, the teaching and studying of Torah is enough to achieve the spiritual connection that was forged through the process of sacrifices.
Even though we do not have the Mishkan anymore, and we can’t see the Ark of the Covenant, our learning and connection to the Jewish religion and people remains strong. Our connection to each other is enough, and this sort of connection doesn’t lose its holiness when G-d’s presence leaves.
Sofia Baris, BBYO Ohio Northern Region
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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