Friday, February 11, 2005 - 2 Adar 2, 5765

Torah Reading: Terumah (Exodus  25:1 - 27:19)
Candle Lighting time: 5:07 PM
Shabbat ends: 6:09 PM
Today I Am A Mishkan
The Torah, in this week's Parshah of Terumah, tell us that for the construction of the Mishkan-the portable Sanctuary- the Jews were commanded to contribute their resources to this holy project. According to Rashi, there were thirteen items that constituted the bulk of their contributions. (Closer examination of the text yields a total of fifteen items. However, some commentators maintain that the two types of jewels that were contributed by the leaders of the tribes were not an integral part of the national effort and therefore were not counted in the total number of donations that included all segments of the community.)
Every detail of the Torah is significant. This is especially true with respect to the construction of the Mishkan, which played such a pivotal role in our history, since it epitomized the intimate relationship between G‑d and His people and was a harbinger of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Notwithstanding the Jews serious degeneration into idolatry when they constructed the golden calf, G‑d was still willing to dwell in their midst by way of the Sanctuary. It is thus no wonder that the Torah dedicates almost four entire Parshahs to the details of the construction of the Mishkan.
In light of the central role of the Mishkan, it is indeed interesting to reflect on the significance of the number thirteen as it pertains to the building of the Mishkan. As Jews we are familiar with the number thirteen. Contrary to the perception in our society that it is an unlucky number, Judaism considers it to have much positive meaning. (In truth, there is no such thing as a lucky or unlucky number. There are, however, numbers that have connotations that are symbolic and instructive.)
Of all the "thirteen's," the most famous is the age of thirteen when a boy reaches maturity and becomes a Bar Mitzvah. (A girl becomes an adult, a Bat Mitzvah, a year earlier at the age of twelve.) There are also other significant "thirteen's," such as the Thirteen  Attributes of Divine Mercy that form an important part of our Yom Kippur liturgy. There are also Thirteen Methods of Torah Interpretation (enumerated by Rabbi Yishmael) and Thirteen Principles of Faith. Ahavah. The Hebrew word for love, Ahavah, is numerically equivalent to thirteen, as is the word one in Hebrew, Echad.
When a boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah, the soul that entered his body at the time of birth and circumcision becomes fully integrated within him. Bar Mitzvah is thus the milestone in life that is the equivalent to the Sanctuary, when the energy of G‑d became thoroughly integrated within the Jewish people. And just as there were thirteen different items that were donated to the Mishkan, so too, each and every year leading up to the age of Bar Mitzvah, contributes one crucial component that prepares us for the momentous event when our bodies become Sanctuaries for our Divine souls.
However, as was stated, the number thirteen also corresponds to the "Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, the "Thirteen Methods of Torah Interpretation," the Thirteen Principles of Faith and the words Ahavah-love and Echad-unity.
Upon deeper reflection, these items represent the three pillars upon which the world stands (Ethics of the Fathers Chapter 1): "Torah, prayer and acts of loving kindness." The 13 methods of interpretation obviously correspond to Torah. The 13 Attributes of Mercy are invoked in our prayers. The idea of love is what motivates us to perform acts of loving-kindness. But all of the above must be based on the singular foundation of faith in the unity of G‑d, the bedrock of Judaism. 
Translating the above in practical terms, the Mishkan that we build in our own lives must be based on the foundations of Torah, prayer and acts of loving-kindness, and on the principle of faith in G‑dly unity.
We can apply all of the above, more specifically, to our unique role at this point in history, standing as we are on the very threshold that separates between exile and Redemption. The entire period of exile can be viewed in two ways. We can look at it just as a time of suffering and pain-which it certainly was-or we can also view it as a time of laying the groundwork for the future role of the Jewish nation as they reach spiritual maturity.
Indeed, the period to follow the future Redemption has been characterized as the age of our collective Bar Mitzvah; when our collective soul will be fully integrated and engaged within us individually and communally, and will spread its light to the entire world.
But if the future era of Redemption is our Bar Mitzvah, we are presently in the period of preparation, where every positive act of ours can be compared to one of the thirteen items that was contributed to the construction of the Mishkan. Now is the time for us to strengthen these foundations, by reinforcing our faith in the 13 principles of Judaism, strengthening our study of Torah (that is interpreted in 13 ways), invoking G‑d's 13 Attributes of Mercy in prayer, and by acts of Tzedakah-Loving-kindness that parallel the 13 items contributed to the Mishkan. And all of the above should be permeated with the spirit of Ahavah and Echad, love and unity, both of which numerically equal the number 13.
Moshiach Matters
In time to come, Divinity will be revealed in this world at a level more sublime than the level at which it is revealed in the Higher Garden of Eden. This is why even the loftiest tzadikim [righteous people] such as Avraham and Moshe, whose abode is at the zenith of the Higher Garden of Eden, will become vested in corporeal bodies and will arise at the Resurrection of the Dead. (Likutei Torah)
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