*WALLS OF SELF-RESTRAINT*In our previous post we discussed the Kelaim – the curtains in the form of loosely woven linen netting that formed the walls of the courtyard, separating it from the unholy area outside.
Unlike the Rebbe who explains that the Kelaim represent our pure, essential Emunah, the Rebbe’s father teaches that the Kelaim represent the attribute of Gevurah. This is alluded to in a number of aspects of the Kelaim.
Linen is a stiff fabric, representing Gevurah (as opposed to soft wool which represents Chessed). The Hebrew word for linen שש, also means 6. Gevurah is the 6th Sefirah when counted from “below to above”. Linen is also called בד. Binah (which is the source of Gevurah) is the second Sefirah (ב) and Gevurah is the fourth Sefirah (ד).
The Kelaim were 280 Amos long – running for 200 Amos on the north and south sides of the Mishkan, 50 Amos on the west and 30 Amos at the front of the Mishkan on the east. 280 is the Gematria of the 5 Hebrew letters that have final form – מנצפ"ך. In Kabbalah, these represent the aspects of 5 Gevurah.
Gevurah is restraint and discipline. In Avodah, we use our attribute of Gevurah to prevail over temptation and desire, as taught by our sages “who is strong? One who conquers their inclination”. Just as one entering the Mishkan first passed through the Kelaim, pushing away our material desires and negative influences is the entry-point in our service of Hashem.
Like the Kelaim, this distances us from the negative influences, allowing us to advance in spiritual service as we enter our Mishkan.
~ Likutei Levi Yitzchok Igros Kodesh p388
The courtyard of the Mishkan was surrounded by curtains in the form of loosely woven linen netting. These formed the walls that demarcated to the holiness of the courtyard and separated it from the unholy area beyond its walls.
The Mishkan represents the holiness and purity of each Jewish person, who is a resting place for the Divine Presence. The area beyond the Mishkan represents the materialism of the world and its negative influences.
The linen curtains, referred to as Kelaim, are that which separates us and protects us from these negative influences to preserve our holiness. The Rebbe and his father had differing understandings of what the Kelaim represent in Avodah and how they create this distancing.
According to the Rebbe, the white linen Kelaim are a metaphor for our Emunah in the oneness of Hashem. The Hebrew word for linen is בד, which also means singular, alluding to the oneness of Hashem. The colour white is a pure, essential colour, reflecting the pure, essential faith of the Jewish soul.
The message of the Kelaim is that even when we find ourselves in a spiritually challenging environment, completely surrounded by values and influences that are foreign, we just need to connect with our inner Emunah. Revealing our Emunah builds a wall of protection that allows us to maintain our sanctity.
~ Likutei Levi Yitzchok Igros Kodesh p388
The vertical beams that made up the walls of the Mishkan were held together by 3 layers of Brichim (planks). The top and bottom Brichim were placed on the outside, running through rings across the face of the beams. However, the middle Briach was inserted through holes that were drilled into the beams, so that it ran “inside the beams”.
The 3 layers of Brichim represent the 3 processes of the intellect; Chochma, Binah and Daas. The wooden beams represent our emotional state.
Chochma is perception and the ability to conceive or “get” ideas. Binah is the analytical mind which seeks to understand and analyse an idea, to come to a full, expanded understanding. Chochma and Binah are conceptual, theoretical and abstract, focused on understanding the idea as a concept.
The theoretical understanding of Chochma and Binah does not become internalised to evoke a strong and meaningful emotional response within us. Any emotional impact will be superficial and fleeting. These are the top and bottom Brichim which have an external connection to the beams of the Mishkan.
This is where Daas comes in. Daas is the middle Briach that penetrates the beams of the Mishkan, runs through them and holds them securely.
Daas means to connect to the idea or understanding so that it resonates with us. Daas asks “what does it mean to me” or “how is it relevant to me and my life”. Through the personal understanding of Daas we are able to internalise the idea so that it penetrates us and arouses a genuine, lasting and transformative emotional response.
~Based on Ohr Hatorah Terumah p1511
The three zones within the Mishkan; the Chatzar (courtyard), the Kodesh and the Kodesh Hakodoshim, represent three different experiences in which we serve Hashem.
The courtyard was where the Altar was located. The Avodah of Korbanos was a daily service, performed even on weekdays. This represents our service of Hashem in the mundane where we seek to elevate the physical world - like the elevation of the coarse meat of the sacrifices.
The Shulchan was located in the Kodesh. On Shabbos, the Lechem Hapanim would be placed on the Shulchan. Like Shabbos, this represents times of spiritual inspiration and upliftment. Whilst we take a step out of the mundane, we still maintain involvement with physicality such as the Shabbos meals. This is represented by the more refined Lechem Hapanim.
The Kodesh Hakodoshim was only entered once a year on Yom Kippur. Unlike the Korbanos and the Lechem Hapanim, in the Kodesh Hakodoshim, the Kohen Gadol burned incense, something that only benefits the soul.
This represents moments of heightened spiritual experience where we transcend physicality and rise above worldliness completely. This is like the experience of Yom Kippur, where we refrain from eating as we soar beyond the limitations of our body and connect deeply with our soul.
From time-to-time we need the Yom Kippur experience. More frequently we need the upliftment of the Shabbos experience. But our primary service of Hashem, the day-in-day-out, is connecting to Him in the courtyard of our mundane.
~ Reshimas Hamenora 13
The Mishkan, comprised three areas. Inside the tent was the Kodesh and the Kodesh Hakodashim. This was surrounded by the Chatzar – an outdoor courtyard that was surrounded by netted walls.
Chassidus explains that each soul has three “garments”; thought, speech and action. Through these “garments” the soul expresses and channels its deeper G-dly understandings and feelings into the practical observance of Mitzvos. The three zones within the Mishkan parallel these three tools of expression.
Action, like the outdoor courtyard, is the outermost expression of the soul. It is an indelible, physical expression in terms of its impact on the world and those around us.
Like the Kodesh Hakodoshim, our innermost “garment” are our thoughts. Our thoughts are private and remain within us. They allow us to clarify and better understand our feelings and ideas for ourselves. They are hidden to others. Thought is the most spiritual of the three “garments”.
Speech communicates our deeper feelings and ideas to others. Whilst speech is an outward communication and expression that “leaves us”, it is not as physical as action and is more closely connected to us, but not as deeply as our thoughts. Like the Kodesh, speech as an expression, sits between action and thought.
These “garments” can also be used to express our animalistic self; our selfishness, negativity and materialism. The inner Beis Hamikdash requires us to transform our three “garments” so that they manifest and express the presence of Hashem within us, the light of our Neshama.
~ Based on Ohr HaTorah Vayakhel p2195 and Reshimas Hamenora 13 (Choveres 82)
In yesterday’s post we contrasted the bottom covering of the Mishkan that represents the service of Tzaddikim and the second covering that represents the Baal Teshuvah.
The bottom covering, woven from dyed sheep-wool, was made up of 10 separate lengths of fabric that were attached together. The second covering made of goat-hair, was made up of 11 lengths of fabric.
The numbers 10 and 11 are significant in Kabbalah. The Tikunei Zohar teaches “You are one, but not in a count… You are He who brought forth… 10 Sefiros.”
The 10 Sefiros are the refractors or channels through which Hashem shines His light to create and interact with the world. These are represented by the 10 lengths of wool fabric. Wool, which is naturally white, represents G-dy light as it is revealed and grasped within the worlds via the Sefiros.
The number 11 represents Hashem as He is “one” beyond the count of the Sefiros. The 11 fabrics of the second covering were made from black goat-hair, representing G-dliness as it is hidden and beyond revelation and Creation.
Parallel to the Sefiros, the Neshama possesses 10 faculties made up of intellect and emotion. These are the revealed or conscious expressions of the soul. The supra-conscious, hidden essence of the soul is “one” beyond “the count”, reflecting a connection to Hashem that transcends the intellect.
Whereas the Tzaddik readily serves Hashem through their conscious expressions of mind and heart in Torah study, prayer and Mitzvos, the Baal Teshuvah faces the challenge of their Yetzer Hara. In order to overcome their spiritual struggle, the Baal Teshuvah must dig deeper, revealing the hidden, incorruptible essence of their soul.
The roof of the Mishkan was made of multiple layers of coverings that created a canopy over the Mishkan and draped over the outside of the walls. Each layer was made from different materials.
The bottom covering was woven from thread that was spun with white linen and three types of dyed sheep wool; blue, crimson and purple. Above this, a second covering was draped, made from spun goats’ hair.
These two coverings, one of sheep-wool and the other of goat-hair, represent the service of the righteous Tzaddik and the Baal Teshuvah respectively.
Sheep are docile and obedient animals and their wool is soft and white. This represents the purity of the Tzaddikim, who faithfully and effortlessly follow Hashem’s will, never struggling with temptation or having to overcome the ‘wildness’ of a Yetzer Hara.
In contrast to the gentle sheep, goats are wild and rowdy. Unlike the sheep’s soft, white wool, the goat’s hair is coarse and black. This represents the Baal Teshuvah who must constantly struggle to overcome their state of spiritual darkness and the agitation and coarseness of their Yetzer Hara, to be able to serve Hashem.
The sages debated which type of service is greater, because each has its own quality. The Tzaddik’s Avodah is flawless, but it comes naturally and without effort. The Baal Teshuvah may not have the same perfection, but their spiritual accomplishments come with great effort and self-transformation.
The 2 coverings remind us that both have their unique place and part in the service of building Hashem’s home.
The Mishkan was a microcosm of existence and everything that exists within the world is reflected in the construction of the Mishkan.
The beams of the Mishkan are described as עצי שטים עומדים “beams of acacia wood that are standing.” Our sages describe that just as the “Seraph angels stand above”, so too the beams of acacia wood in the Mishkan stand down below.
In one of the prophesies of Zechariah, Hashem says ונתתי לך מהלכים בין העמדים האלה “I will make you movers amongst these who stand”.
“These who stand” refers to the angels. Standing describes a state of Bittul, surrender to Hashem. Chassidus explains that the Neshamos in Gan Eden, prior to coming into this world, are also called “standing”. Like the angels, they too stand before Hashem with deep feelings of love and awe.
But standing also means to be fixed or stuck in one’s place, without the capacity to grow beyond their present experience. Completely immersed in G-dly revelation, the angels and Neshamos above, are incapable of yearning for more.
By descending into this world where G-dliness is hidden and facing the spiritual struggles that it presents, the Neshama is able to become a “mover”, to transcend its limitations and reach a yearning and growth that is infinitely greater.
This is like the greatness of the Baal Teshuvah over the Tzaddik; the deep yearning for connection to Hashem that can only be attained from a prior sense of distance.
The beams of acacia wood that formed the walls of the Mishkan were inserted into silver Adanim (sockets). These Adanim served as the foundation of the Mishkan, holding the heavy beams upright and securely in place.
The materials used in the construction of the Mishkan were donated by the Jewish people. These included gold, silver, copper, wool, dyes and skins. Each person could give “as their hearts pledged”, giving as much or as little as they desired or could afford.
But the Adanim were made from the silver of the half-shekel contribution. Unlike the other donations, the half-shekel had to be given equally by every person, “the rich could not give more and the poor cannot give less”.
Whereas the other donations highlight the differences between one Jew and the next, the half-shekel represents the unity of the Jewish people.
In the psyche of the soul, the donations that were given in different measures represent our personal qualities of intellect, emotion and our standing in spiritual service. These will differ considerably from person-to-person, creating a hierarchy of “more” or “less”.
The half-shekel represents the essence of the soul which is a part of Hashem Himself. Every Jew has this spark, from the greatest spiritual sage to the simple unlearned Jew. On this level we are all equal.
Like the Adanim, the foundation of our spiritual Mishkan must to be the unity of the Jewish people that comes from revealing our essential oneness; to see and treat every Jew as a part of Hashem, equal to us in their infinite value.
The Mitzvah to build the Mishkan is worded ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם. Literally it translates “build for me a sanctuary and I will dwell within them”. From this, our sages derive that Hashem’s true desire is not to dwell within the physical structure of the Mishkan, but that His presence rests within each one of us.
The Alter Rebbe shows how the very design of the Mishkan mirrors the composition of the human body.
The Mishkan walls were made from upright beams of acacia wood. These are like the bone structure, which supports the body and allows it to stand. The covering of the Mishkan was made up of layers of materials and tapestries that draped over the walls. The coverings are like the flesh and skin which covers over our bones.
The Keilim (vessels) that were placed inside the Mishkan represent the internal organs of the body. From these organs, the Kabbalists identify 3 primary organs which are the ‘rulers’ within a person; the brain, heart and liver.
The names of these organs – Mo’ach, Lev, Kaved, form an acrostic for Melech (king), alluding to the fact that they control and drive our behaviour. Modern psychology refers to these as the three ‘minds’ – the brain (intellect), the heart (emotion) and the gut (instinct).
The Aron which contained the Luchos – the wisdom of Hashem, corresponds to the brain. The incense altar in the centre of the Mishkan is like the heart. The outer sacrificial altar represents the liver or gut.
To become a Mishkan for Hashem’s presence, we need to bring consciousness of Hashem into every part of our psyche and to use every part of our being in His service.
~ Likutei Torah Nasso page 44