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ב"ה

Home Sweet Home

Friday, 4 March, 2022 - 6:25 am

 s the situation in Ukraine worsens, many of our fellow Jews find themselves displaced and without a home.  The dire circumstances are literally unfathomable. We pray for a swift and peaceful resolution immediately.

Chabad has been at the forefront of helping our fellow Jews – and non-Jews – during these very pressing and daunting times.  Shelter, food, evacuation and temporary relocation. These are just a drop in the bucket of what Chabad – the dominant force of Judaism in the former Soviet Union – has been engaged in around the clock.

I can’t imagine the crushing feeling of those who have lost their homes, or been forced to leave their homes with just the shirt on their back.

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An old Yiddish saying proclaims, “It’s good to travel, but it’s better to come home.”

There’s something special about home that nothing else can compare to. Even the greatest getaways lack the somewhat mystical quality of home.

What is it about the home that creates this special aura? After all, a five-star hotel provides more luxury and comfort than many homes.

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In this week’s Torah portion of Pekudei we read (again) about the construction of G-d’s home on earth, the Mishkan.  Rashi records that Moshe told Bezalel (the lead craftsman) to make the vessels of the Tabernacle first and the dwelling place afterward, but Bezalel responded, ‘Don't we usually build the house first and then place the utensils within?’ Moshe answered, ‘What you have said is indeed the way I heard it from G-d.’

This dialogue displays the great pragmatism of Bezalel. But it also seems to portray Moshe as somewhat disorganized. What was Moshe thinking? And why would he deviate from the way G-d had initially expressed?

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Going back to our Bubbies’ saying about home, maybe we can appreciate Moshe’s take.  What makes the home special is not only the fact that it is our shelter from the elements. Nor is it the specific architecture. Rather, it is the character of the home. It’s the spirit of what occurs within the walls of the house that define it.  It’s home as a shelter from the fast-paced world around us. It’s home as a bedrock of our values; as a foundation for our family unit or personal space.

And these aspects of home depend on our own character, identity and priorities.

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Maybe Moshe was trying to have it both ways. True, the walls must be built first in order to house the sacred items. But which is first in spirit? Which is our true priority?

Moshe knew that Bezalel’s practicality would win the day in actual execution. But only after Moshe’s perspective is introduced can we rest assured that this House remains a House of G-d, embodying the ideals of the sacred tasks that were to be performed therein.

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As over a million people are forced to leave their homes, it isn’t only shelter they need. It is a place that creates an aura of safety, values and character. A place where they can express their true identity and spiritual calling.

We will do our best to provide it temporarily. But, we will continue to pray – and assist them – that they are able to return to a place they truly call home.

Let’s rise to the occasion to help them in a time of need. And, let me go do my own home makeover – well, not physically, but at least spiritually.

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