Thursday, February 11, 2016
Parshat Terumah, 5th Portion, Exodus 26:31-37, February 11, 2016
Ramsey Park. It needed some updating. It looked shabby. So we did that. The neighborhood pitched in with time and cash. And it turned out beautiful. I was surprised to be there on the opening day, and to see how it had brought together kids of all agents, adults, and local government officials. It was the people in the park that made the day. The park itself was just a place. It was improved, but the real accomplishment was how the people came and enjoyed the facilities... and each other.
So it is with the Tabernacle. A building, no matter how beautiful, means nothing compared with its potential to teach, to bring people together, and to bring us closer to the divine. That should be what a building is about.
http://www.chabad.org/dailystudy/dailywisdom_cdo/aid/2961074/jewish/Thursday-Transcending-the-Intellect.htm has an interesting perspective on the Tabernacle. It suggests that it is a representation of not only our mind, but of our spiritual journey. It describes the two chambers of the Tabernacle, saying that the outer chamber represents our intellect with three furnishings, “the Candelabrum, the Table of twelve loaves, and the incense Altar.” It goes on to say that we orient our consciousness toward Divinity by focusing our intellect on God. No wonder we can't understand her (my comment, not from the article). [The three furnishings] “signify the three components of the intellect: the ability to gain insight (chochmah, in Hebrew), the ability to comprehend (binah) the meaning of that insight, and the ability to make what we comprehend relevant to our own lives (da’at).”
Being in the outer chamber is like walking on a stony path with your eyes on the sky. You'll trip again and again because you aren't seeing the stones. And your faith is easily broken when you do fall.
The inner chamber has the Ark. Here we have “supra-rational consciousness” of God, where our consciousness is “engulfed by Divine consciousness.” Supra-rational means to transcend the rational. I suspect we use it daily without knowing it. In any case, maybe we are using it 100% when we enter the inner chamber (which only special priests enter). Perhaps Aaron's sons were still using their intellect when God's fire ended their lives.
Having read this article, the Tabernacle, like Ramsey Park, will no longer just be a place or a building. It represents our minds that move from thinking to knowing. How we move through the outer chamber (the world that we see) to the inner chamber, the world that extends endlessly in ten directions (as Buddhists say), is your guess as much as mine.