From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of
13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben
14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben
16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe
Alshech of Tsfat
17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya
18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim
The secret of the Tabernacle is that the Glory, which abode upon Mount
Sinai [openly], should abide upon it in a concealed manner. For just as
it is said there, "And the glory of the Eternal abode upon Mount
Sinai," and it is further written: "Behold, the Eternal our
G-d hath shown us His glory and His greatness," so it is written
of the Tabernacle in this reading twice, "And the glory of the Eternal
filled the Tabernacle" [40:34 & 35]. It is written twice in connection
with the Tabernacle, to correspond with His glory and His greatness.
"You are to construct two cherubs.." [25:18]
A kabbalistic approach to the two cherubs: Both the cherubs in the Tabernacle
and the ones in the Temple were symbolic of the fire and the thunder the
Israelites experienced during the revelation at Mount Sinai. Moses reminded
the people of this experience in Deut. 34:36 when he emphasized that the
origin of these phenomena had been in heaven, i.e. min hashamayim.
They were both constructed of gold seeing that both were recipients of
input from the attributes Love and Justice. They were constructed of a
single chunk of gold to symbolize the underlying unity of these attributes.
They were male and female respectively in order to teach that these two
genders represent the initiating force and the responsive force respectively.
The reason they were placed at opposite ends of the kapporet (verse
19) was that one represented the "head" i.e. the beginning of
the manifestation in the lower, terrestrial world, whereas the other represented
the conclusion of that process. This is what is implied in the wording,
"from the kapporet shall you make the two cherubs at its two
"They will make a sanctuary for me" [25:8]
The message is mind boggling! Who can imagine that G-d's Presence can
be contained on earth, much less in a man-made structure! When Solomon
beheld that the presence of G-d filled the temple he had built, he was
awed. He realized that this was only possible because the site of Mount
Moriah had been the gateway to Heaven since creation. Our sages express
it by stating that the sanctuary on earth is opposite G-d's sanctuary
in Heaven. For that reason Adam and Noah offered their sacrifices at that
site, and so did Abraham and Jacob.
When Solomon, at the dedication (Kings I:8) said amongst other things,
banoh baniti beyt zfevul, (I have built a residence) repeating the
word 'I have built', he indicated that what he had accomplished here on
earth, had had its effects in Heaven, that he had in effect built 2 temples.
The celestial temple is situated in a region called zevul. This
is what is known as machon leshivtecha olamim (the place of Your
eternal residence.) All of David's efforts to locate the exact site for
the temple had had this as their objective. In his days nobody had known
where the exact location was until the prophet Gad told David that it
was on the threshing ground of Arnon the Jebusite. (Samuel 24:18).
A similar concept, of man's actions being matched in celestial spheres,
is expressed in Bamidbar Rabba 12:12. We are told there that when Israel
erected the tabernacle, G-d told the angels to erect a celestial counterpart.
That sanctuary is called the sanctuary of the lad mattatron; there
the souls of the righteous would be offered during the period Israel is
in exile, as atonement for the Jewish nation. This is why the Torah describes
the erection of the tabernacle as et hamishkan, the et referring
to something additional, i.e. the celestial counterpart. Just as there
is a senior temple in the celestial spheres as described in the shira
(the song of thanksgiving after the Israelites had crossed the sea - mikdash
HaShem konnanu yadecha - Ex. 15:17) so there is also a junior such
residence in the celestial spheres, albeit in the rakiyah, a lower
layer of heaven. This junior temple functions when there is no temple
down here due to our sins. This is why the Midrash calls it the Mishkan
Hana-ar the tabernacle of the youth, i.e. the junior temple.
The author quotes may proofs from scripture supporting the idea that
when man does things for the glory of G-d-provided he is in a state of
grace-man's actions have their counterpart in celestial regions. What
G-d told Israel in this portion is that even after the grave sin of the
golden calf, once rehabilitated by penitence, the freedom which man has
been equipped with, enables him to draw the holiness of G-d down to earth.
"They will make a sanctuary for me" [25:8]
Study of the Torah is something equivalent to all other virtues. The
22 basic letters of the Torah are divided into three groups, as explained
in the Sefer Yetzira: the three Foundation letters, alef, mem, shin;
the seven Doubles, beit, gimel, dalet, nun, pei, reish, tav; and
the twelve Simple letters, hei, vav, zayin, chet, tet, yud, chaf, lamed,
samech, ayin, tzadik, and kuf. Corresponding to those three
groups, you will find during the construction of the Tabernacle that the
holy vessels were made of three kinds of metal, gold, silver, and copper,
corresponding to the three letters alef, mem, shin; the seven lamps of
the candlestick corresponded to the seven letters beit, gimel, dalet,
nun, pei, reish, tav. Gold, silver, and copper respectively symbolize
the elements fire, air, and water
I have found the following in the book called Ginat Egoz that gold, silver,
and copper respectively symbolize the elements fire, air, and water. The
main letters of these elements, water [in Hebrew, "mayim"],
air ["avir"], and fire ["aish"], are
the same as the three Foundation letters listed in the Sefer Yetzira.
Gold is compared to fire, mercury to air, and copper to water. Mercury
is also a medium, just like the wind; it does not usually perform a function
in its own right.
The seven lamps of the candlestick, which shine their light toward the
center-shaft, symbolize the seven primary planets [a system believed in
by astronomers in earlier days. Ed.] They symbolize the 7 letters which
we called Doubles because they occur on different occasions both with
and without a dagesh, or dot, in the middle. On a still higher level,
they symbolize the attributes of Justice and Mercy respectively.
The 12 gemstones contained in the breastplate worn by the High Priest
symbolize the remaining 12 consonants. It is evident that all the major
parts of the Tabernacle symbolized the letters of the Hebrew alef-bet,
of Torah. The universe was created for the sake of Torah, so that Torah
could be observed.
The three Foundation letters correspond to the basic elements. We usually
speak of four basic elements: air, water, fire and dust (earth). The element
of earth, however, is included in the other three elements since it is
the result of interaction of the other three elements.
The number seven, relating to the Double letters, symbolizes the number
of the principal planets.
The number twelve symbolizes the twelve leaders in the physical universe,
the twelve signs of the zodiac; on a still higher plane, they allude to
the twelve permutations in which the letters of the Ineffable Name can
be written. This name contains three letters, yud, hei, and vav,
and when the four letters of the Name itself [yud, hei, vav, hei]
are added, we get the number seven. When you consider the different ways
that name can be written you have twelve.
This symbolism is also found in connection with the people of Israel,
the recipients of Torah. We have three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob. Israel has seven different levels of nobility: there is the ordinary
Israelite, the Levite, the ordinary priest, the High Priest, the president
of the Supreme Court, the leader of the nation in the absence of a king,
and the king himself. The number twelve symbolizes the twelve tribes.
Together this adds up to 22, i.e. the number of letters in the basic alef-bet
of the Torah. This is the meaning of the verse in the Mishna, "the
study of Torah is the equivalent of them all." (Mishna Pe'ah, 1:1)
and have them bring Me an offering." [25:2]
A moral dimension of the verse may have to do with the attachment of
the soul to G-d. Such a relationship may be reinforced by means of a tangible
gift towards the construction of the Tabernacle.
The collective soul of Israel is termed trumah. This is based on
Jeremiah 2:3 "Israel is holy unto G-d, reisheet tevuatah,
the first of His harvest." The word reisheet is often
applied to trumah. Accordingly, acceptance of a tangible gift by
the Jewish people achieves that G-d's Presence will dwell in Israel. The
words tkchu et trumati in 25:2 refer to the Divine Presence which
is called trumat haShem.
Adapted from the 13th century classic by the illustrious scholar, philosopher
and defender of the faith, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman-known as 'RAMBAN' or
'Nachmanides', a master kabbalist in his own right and a major link in
the transmission of Jewish mysticism-based on the excellent annotated
English translation, Nachmanides on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B.
Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of The
Torah Commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu
Munk. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher [1255-1340] of Saragosa, Spain, was the outstanding
pupil of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (the "Rashba"), a main disciple
of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the "Ramban"). Several books have
been written about the Kabballah-based portions of R. Bachya's commentary.
Adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech,
the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated and condensed
in the English version of Eliyahu Munk
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz was born in Prague around the year 1565. He served
as Rabbi of Cracow and other congregations before he was appointed as
the Rabbi of the community of Frankfurt on Main in the year 1610. In 1916,
Rabbi Horowitz moved to Prague where he became the Chief Rabbi of the
city. He moved to Eretz Yisrael about 1621. He was rabbi in Jerusalem
and in Tiberias, where he died in or about 1630. In addition to his magnus
opus, Shenei Luchot HaBrit, he also compiled an edition of the prayer-book
with a comprehensive commentary. Many of his innovations, including his
formulation of the Kol Nidrei prayer, have become part and parcel of the
Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim:
the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated
by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco,
on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of
Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was
on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker,
hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only
to his Torah commentary.