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לימוד תורה

A new public agenda begins

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - Parasha in our everyday life – Vayakhel-Pekudei Parashat HaChodesh - 5781

Dramatic changes in the life of the individual, nation or humanity require new agendas. Human nature tends to be fixated and want to return to a familiar routine from the past. He finds it difficult to come to terms with the fact that what was will no longer be, and to adapt as quickly as possible to the new reality, and to try to organize an agenda that will make the best of it. While reorganizing, mistakes and glitches are expected. Some find it difficult to come to terms with the inevitable change and try to fight against it!

The number of vaccinated people has increased Thank G-d (albeit at a slower rate than possible) allowing the Israeli society and the world to slowly return to a much-blessed routine. However, it must be noted that a dramatic change has taken place. The new routine the world will enter, will be different from before Covid-19. Both because not everyone is vaccinated and for fear of new mutations and viruses. There are things that will probably not disappear so quickly from our lives: the masks, the social distancing up to a certain point, less crowded events and less transitions from country to country, and the idea of 'working from home'.

There are areas of practice that will change greatly such as: leisure, tourism, and areas where it will be possible to work remotely; in development, medicine, industry, and academia.

Restrictions on transitions between countries. Periodic vaccination (still unknown how often) will also become part of our lives.

The process of building the Mishkan, its tools and its construction, was the first national project of the people of Israel. After a long process, it was completed in Rosh Chodesh Nissan – the first of the months and renewal ('Shabbat HaChodesh'):

וַיְכַ֥ל מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶת־הַמְּלָאכָֽה וַיְכַ֥ס הֶעָנָ֖ן אֶת־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וּכְב֣וֹד ה' מָלֵ֖א אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּֽן׃

"... When Moshe had finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of Hashem filled the Tabernacle." (Shmot 40:33-34). From now on, the Tabernacle will be a place for the Divine Presence and sacred work. A new agenda begins with the Divine Presence in the camp, the daily work of the Tabernacle, at special times. A new national schedule begins with the 'Tamid of dawn' and ends with the offering into the night.

The Tent of Meeting became Moshe's meeting place with Hashem as well:

וְנוֹעַדְתִּ֣י לְךָ֮ שָׁם֒ וְדִבַּרְתִּ֨י אִתְּךָ֜ מֵעַ֣ל הַכַּפֹּ֗רֶת מִבֵּין֙ שְׁנֵ֣י הַכְּרֻבִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־אֲרֹ֣ן הָעֵדֻ֑ת אֵ֣ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֧ר אֲצַוֶּ֛ה אוֹתְךָ֖ אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

"There I will meet with you, and I will impart to you—from above the cover, from between the two cherubim that are on top of the Ark of the Pact—all that I will command you concerning the Israelite people". (Shmot 25:22)

From now on, the Divine speech to Moshe that accompanies the people of Israel will be between the cherubim in the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle also became the people of Israel's gathering place with Hashem:

וְנֹעַדְתִּ֥י שָׁ֖מָּה לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְנִקְדַּ֖שׁ בִּכְבֹדִֽי׃

"and there I will meet with the Israelites, and it shall be sanctified by My Presence". (Shmot 29:43)

וְשָׁ֣כַנְתִּ֔י בְּת֖וֹךְ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָהֶ֖ם לֵאלֹקים׃ וְיָדְע֗וּ כִּ֣י אֲנִ֤י ה' אֱלֹ֣קיהֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצֵ֧אתִי אֹתָ֛ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לְשָׁכְנִ֣י בְתוֹכָ֑ם אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹקיהֶֽם׃

"I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be their G-d. And they shall know that I Hashem am their G-d, who brought them out from the land of Egypt that I might abide among them, I Hashem their G-d." (ibid 45-46)

From now on, a new public agenda and a new public routine begins in the Israel camp. The routine will no longer be the same routine it was before:

עַד שֶׁלֹּא הוּקַם הַמִּשְׁכָּן, הָיוּ הַבָּמוֹת מֻתָּרוֹת, וַעֲבוֹדָה בַּבְּכוֹרוֹת. מִשֶּׁהוּקַם הַמִּשְׁכָּן, נֶאֶסְרוּ הַבָּמוֹת, וַעֲבוֹדָה בַּכֹּהֲנִים. קָדְשֵׁי קָדָשִׁים, נֶאֱכָלִים לִפְנִים מִן הַקְּלָעִים.

"Until the Tabernacle was established, private altars were permitted, and the sacrificial service was performed by the firstborn. And from the time that the Tabernacle was established, private altars were prohibited, and the sacrificial service was performed by the priests. Offerings of the most sacred order were then eaten within the curtains surrounding the courtyard of the Tabernacle in the wilderness". (Mishnah Zevachim 14:4)

Since the establishment of the Mishkan, there was a dramatic change. It was no longer possible to sacrifice on private or tribal altars, the entire nation concentrates on sacrificing in the Tent of Meeting. Thus, the Tent of Meeting becomes the focal point, the tribal level weight is shifted to the national level. From now on, the Tent of Meeting becomes the gathering place of the entire nation:

...וְנֽוֹעֲד֤וּ אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה אֶל־פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃

"…the whole community shall assemble before you at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting" (Bamidbar 10:3)

This renewed change also caused a great mishap on the day of the construction of the Tabernacle, with the death of Nadav and Avihu the sons of Aaron:

וַיָּ֣מָת נָדָ֣ב וַאֲבִיה֣וּא לִפְנֵ֣י ה' בְּֽהַקְרִבָם֩ אֵ֨שׁ זָרָ֜ה לִפְנֵ֤י ה'

"But Nadav and Avihu died by the will of Hashem, when they offered alien fire before Hashem in the wilderness of Sinai…"  (Bamidbar 3:4)

From then on, there was also a dramatic change of status in the people of Israel. The priests took the place of the firstborns in the sacrifices at the Tabernacle! The firstborns had a hard time accepting the change in their status, which led them to join Korach's rebellion against Moshe Rabbeinu:

"'ויקח קרח'- זה הדבר היה במדבר סיני כאשר נתחלפו הבכורים ונבדלו הלוים כי חשבו ישראל שמשה אדונינו עשה מדעתו לתת גדולה לאחיו גם לבני קהת שהם קרובים אליו ולכל בני לוי שהם ממשפחתו ... ואלה נשיאי העדה היו בכורים ..."

And Korach took” - This matter that was in the wilderness of Sinai, when the firstborns were replaced and the Levites were separated, for the Israelites thought that Moshe our Leader did it according to his own thought, to give greatness to his brother, and also to the sons of Kehat for they are close to him, and all of the Levites that they are his family… And those Heads of the Congregation (edah) were firstborns …" (Ibn Ezra Bamidbar 16:1).

The establishment of the Mishkan also created a new change of order:

המשכן שעשה משה במדבר, שתרד השכינה לארץ, ביום ההוא משכן אחר הוקם למעלה כמו שהעמידוה

 "The Mishkan that Moshe made in the desert, that the Shechinah descended on to it, on that day another Mishkan was erected at the top as it was erected" (translation from Zohar Trumah 143a). Hence also:

עַד שֶׁלֹא הוּקַם הַמִּשְׁכָּן הָיוּ הַמַּזִּיקִין מִתְגָּרִין בָּעוֹלָם לַבְּרִיּוֹת, וּמִשֶּׁהוּקַם הַמִּשְׁכָּן שֶׁשָּׁרָה הַשְּׁכִינָה לְמַטָּה, כָּלוּ הַמַּזִּיקִין מִן הָעוֹלָם,

"Until the Tabernacle was established, the injurious were provoking the human beings in the world, and since the creation of the Tabernacle, and the Divine Presence came below, the nuisances stopped" (Bamidbar Rabbah 12:3).

May we merit that the following changes we must undergo, will always be for our good and a blessing.

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