Sanctification of the Self

parashas Terumah 5782 – A Model of Sanctification

The sanctification of our lives is dependent upon recognizing the difference, not only between sacred and mundane, rather also between sacred and most sacred. Therefore, in light of a godly perspective, we may characterize these aspects of our lives in the following manner: In accordance with the template for our lives, as per this discussion, the Mishkan contains two spaces within. The Kadosh Kadoshim (Holy of Holies), where the ark of the covenant was kept; and, the Kadosh (Holy), where the incense mizbeach, menorah, and showbread table were contained.

These three components within the Kadosh, may be said to represent prayer, wisdom, and kitvei kodesh (holy scripture). Inasmuch that it is written, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of G-d,” we may view bread as symbolic of the word of G-d. The light of the seven-branched menorah was maintained by seven oil lamps on the top of each branch. In kitvei kodesh, both light and olive oil represent wisdom. And, finally, the smoke of the incense mizbeach (altar) is indicative of our prayers rising up toward Heaven.

These three components were essential to the avodah (service) of the Mishkan, performed by the Levites. And the corresponding attributes are key for our avodah (service) to G-d. Primarily, if we “feast” upon the word of G-d, especially on Shabbos (the Sabbath), which was when the twelve loaves on the showbread table were eaten by the kohanim (priests), then we are providing ourselves with a rich banquet of truth, and the values derived thereof, in order to nourish our soul. Through abiding in the word, we will acquire wisdom; and our prayers may be based on scripture as well. The three aspects of the accoutrements in the Mishkan are part of the whole.

Continuing on with the extended metaphor for sanctification, we find the significance of the Kadosh Kadoshim (Holy of Holies), such that the ark is the repository for the commandments of G-d, that we are to follow, in order to obtain a level of morality in accordance with what was prescribed from Above. These are unchanging, a certain guide in the storms of life, and not subject to the shifting sands of modernity. They are the backbone of our uprightness in the eyes of G-d. As such, they also represent the crux of our thought, speech and action – directives for the guidance of the soul. Moreover, because G-d’s presence rested upon the kapores (cover) of the ark, we are reminded of G-d’s presence within us, when we make ourselves tabernacles.

So, while on the one hand, it is well known that we need to keep ourselves from becoming entangled in the mundane affairs of the world, in order to focus on what is sacred in our lives. We need to also recognize the role of the Most Sacred in our lives, the potential to remain in G-d’s presence, as long as we maintain a constant diet of the word, enlighten our souls with the wisdom of G-d, and pray in all sincerity, so that are prayers are lifted up to Heaven.

The inner sanctum of our souls, where only we may reside, along with G-d’s presence, is a place where G-d may communicate to us as individuals. Whether through our intuition, insight, or other kinds of influence, this is our refuge, where others may not enter. We do not need to take everything about ourselves outside of the holy place within us, for others may not always understand. Yet, G-d is our Counselor, and Guide, whom we should be able to communicate with, from the depths of our heart. He serves this role for all who seek Him, because as human beings we are limited in our ability to shoulder all of our burdens on our own. And, while others may help us, scripture tells us, “Cast thy burden upon the L-RD, and He will sustain thee” (Psalms 55:23, JPS 1917 Tanach).

The Golden Opportunity


weekly reading: parashas Terumah 5781 – the Golden Ark

“Overlay it with pure gold—overlay it inside and out—and make upon it a gold molding round about.” – Exodus 25:11, JPS

The Ark of the Covenant was built by Betzalel, who was consigned as artist extraordinaire, in charge of the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and all of its components. Composed of an entirety of three interlocking boxes, one golden box on the inside, one acacia wood box in the middle, and one golden box on the outside, the ark of the covenant was especially suited for containing the two stone tablets with the aseret hadibrot (literally, ten utterances); otherwise, known as the Ten Commandments.

This bears weight upon a conceptual understanding of character development: for as we are on the inside, so should we appear on the outside; otherwise, if we personify an image, while not living up to our image, our inner person will not shine. In fact, only by a strong character, will we truly appear golden to others; otherwise, our hypocrisy will show up somehow, rather than shine from the “golden glow” inside of us.

This also can be understood in respect to what is most important, according to this particular illustration, in regard to the content or source of our character, that is from the Torah’s point-of-view. Thus, we can easily see that such an ornate receptacle was built to carry and house the tablets of stone that contained the engraved writing, in fire from the finger of G-d. The “power source” of the Ark of the Covenant was, and in a sense continues to be, the Ten Commandments. Additionally, all of the other commandments can be categorized within the framework of these ten commandments. As previously mentioned they are also referred to as the “ten utterances;” these words spoken by G-d continue to be spoken throughout the generations.

Ideally, the Ark provides a picture, if not an object lesson of divinity as well, since the Shechinah, G-d’s presence rested between the golden cherubim (angels) on the cover. The opportunity prevails upon us, inasmuch that we can relate to this teaching, that just as His presence rested within the space on top of the golden cover of the ark, so may the Shechinah rest within us, when we are reconciled to G-d. “And let them make me a sanctuary [mikdash], that I may dwell among [within] them” (Exodus 25:8, JPS). The original intent, ideally, is that G-d might dwell within each and every one of us. Let us permit His light to shine through our sincere character.

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