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G-d spoke to Moses… "Speak to the Israelites and let them make a contribution… you shall take My contribution from everyone who wishes to give… this is the contribution you shall take from them, - gold, silver, and copper… they shall make a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell amongst them" (25: extracts from 1-8).
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch notes the use of the plural: 'They', referring to the Israelites' shall make a sanctuary for Me. That suggests that all the Israelites should be involved in its construction in some way or another - by financing it, supplying its raw materials, or being part of its workforce. The Tabernacle was neither to be the donation of one single rich person (perhaps to perpetuate the memory of a deceased loved one), nor from an oligarchy of private individuals.
That all contributed enabled each person to feel at home in the place of worship, without one or two overwhelming the others with the extent of their role in the construction. In the spirit of 'the silver and the gold; all of it is Mine' (Haggai 2:8).
The same applies to synagogues and other worthy institutions, where G-d 'might dwell among you' (25:8). They are to belong to the community, not for the glory those who 'generously' parted with a slice of their wealth for their names to be emblazoned in gold letters.
The reason is because: 'My House shall be a place of prayer for all people' (Isaiah 56:7). Once 'G-d's House' is stamped with named individuals, it may begin an association with those people. It may no longer be 'G-d's house'. It could be the donor's house…
The same applies to conduct within the synagogue. Those who use it in harmony with the more intense Divine presence become guests in G-d's Reality. They are there to concentrate on prayer as a means of placing themselves - and the community - in a state of mind in harmony with the Creator. Those with other 'agendas' use 'G-d's Reality' as a means of self-aggrandizement. They can squabble like bobcats over Maftir Yonah, sing for the sole purpose of showing off their voices, dress to show off their clothes (making those with less resources feel dowdy and unwanted), and pitch their political savvy to jockey their way up to the coveted seat in the gabbai's box. If the think of G-d at all, He would be a 'guest' in their 'reality'…
That is the meaning of the words: 'They shall make a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell amongst them'. For G-d to dwell 'amongst them', the house should be made - and used - specifically for 'Him' - as a means of solely 'tuning in harmony' with the Creator,..
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Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
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Also by Jacob Solomon:
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