The Mainstay

Friday, 15 March, 2024 - 12:37 pm

It’s always a pleasure to travel to see your children. I’m looking forward to enjoying a wonderful Shabbat where I get to be a yeshiva bochur again. I have three sons studying in Chicago, and I’ll try my best to shake off the rust and keep up with them during my visit.

I feel immensely at home in yeshiva. I dream of these opportunities. It is an infusion to the spirit; a refreshing quench to a parched soul.

Yet, home is still with my family. Cooking dinner, fixing leaks, leading a community.

Do I celebrate more the opportunities for a “high” – be they vacations of the body or the soul – or the daily life I have?


In this week’s parsha Pekudei we wrap up learning about the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. Remarkably, the Torah spends thirteen chapters to tell us about this structure, down to its sockets and beams. There’s only a chapter or two about creation and three chapters about the Giving of the Torah. This subject even eclipses the Exodus! Why so much attention to the seemingly boring details of construction? Isn’t this supposed to be a manual for spiritual life, not a contractor’s guide to building?!

The key to understanding G-d’s craving for a physical home is to remember that Hashem already had a spiritual home in Heaven before creating our universe. So, He must not have created this world simply to get more spirituality. And, He didn’t create it for all the selfish materialism that it offers. So, why did He create it?

Our world is G-d’s most coveted goal. But, He needs us to be partners. G-d’s truest desire is to be at home in this world. However, as mentioned, Heaven is more hospitable to G-d than Earth.

That’s where we come in. Hashem’s deepest wish is fulfilled when we convert the brute matter of this world into a suitable space for G-d. By permeating it with holiness, it becomes a vessel for G-dliness. G-d doesn’t desire Heaven. He desires Heaven on Earth. And, for that He needs us. And a lot of wood, gold, copper, wool, etc.

Dedicating so much space to this endeavor drives home the message that this is not incidental. It is not a means to an end. It is the end itself. Making this world holy is the goal.

I may enjoy the time in yeshiva. But, ultimately, changing this world – one mitzvah at a time – is my primary mission.

Study Torah. But, then take that Torah and uplift the world with it.

Lighting Shabbat candles, for example, doesn’t only bring an aura of peace and warmth to the home. It doesn’t only invite harmony and camaraderie. It invites G-d into the physical space and into the wax and flames. 

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