Weekly Reading Insights: 



From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of Moses)

13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman

14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben Asher

16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Tsfat

17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya Horowitz

18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar


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.


Rabbeinu Bachya

"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 ends."



"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)


Ohr HaChayim

"…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.



Ramban - credits
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. Chavel

Bachya - credits
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.

Alsheich - credits
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

Shelah - credits
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 Ashkenazi Siddur.

Ohr HaChayim - credits
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.

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