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Fashion Statement

Friday, 8 February, 2019 - 10:01 am

Home decorating is a matter of taste. Modern or rustic, it’s meant to express the attitudes and style of the occupants. And, hopefully, provide an inviting space for others as well.

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In this week’s parsha Teruma the Jewish people are instructed to create a home for Hashem. The Mishkan (Tabernacle) is G-d’s home on earth. As the Torah describes it, “And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.”

In Hashem’s blueprint two articles stand out for their specific instruction. The menorah, the seven-branched candelabra, and the kaporet, the covering to the Aron (ark) that housed the luchot (Tablets) had something in common. They were the only two items required to be fashioned from one solid piece of gold. No attachments. No welding. Just beating a piece of gold into a specific shape.

Why did Hashem insist these specific holy vessels be formed from one piece of metal, a demanding feat?

For the menorah, the answer seems obvious. The menorah, the symbol of light, represents the Jewish people. Though we branch out in different directions – with different personalities, perspectives and purposes – we are all one. Our unity isn’t despite our differences. It is part and parcel of our distinct characteristics.

But, why was the cover to the ark that housed G-d’s Torah fashioned of one piece of gold?

The cover was an intricate piece of art with two keruvim (cherubs) flowing upward from it. These cherubs had the features of a young child.

The medieval scholar Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher (Baal HaTurim) comments that this demonstrates G-d’s tremendous love for the Jewish people, paralleling the affection shown to one’s baby.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains this further:

Parents’ love for their children is not related to or conditional upon the child’s qualities or accomplishments. Parents are inherently one with their children and therefore love them unconditionally. This is particularly evident by the way parents adore their infant children, well before the child’s qualities and virtues can be seen.

Because the soul of every Jew is “a veritable part of G-d above” (Tanya, Chapter 2), G-d holds us dear with an intrinsic, essential and unbreakable love, like the love parents have for their children. The keruvim therefore resembled babies, symbolizing that G-d’s love for the Jewish people is not dependent on our accomplishments; it transcends the relationship we forge with Him by studying His Torah and observing His commandments.

In the most sacred place of all G-d’s devotion to His children was on full display.

Perhaps this is also why the kaporet needed to be created from one piece, indicating the oneness between G-d and His people. In G-d’s home, harmony and oneness are critical components. They set the tone for a place where G-d feels welcome.

Each of our homes can also be a dwelling place for G-d. To make Hashem feel invited and comfortable, the greatest fashion statement we can make is creating a space of holiness, harmony and hospitality.

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