Friday, February 11, 2011

Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh - In my heart I will build a Sanctuary

We are in the midst of several parshiot describing in great detail the requirements for building the mishkan, portable tabernacle or sanctuary, that would accompany the Israelites along their journey. The entire mishkan was made up of pieces that were easy to assemble/disassemble except for the poles that were attached to the ark itself and that were used to carry it around. The purpose of the attached poles was to provide a material illustration of what the Hebrew letter "bet" in Exodus 25:8  illustrates.

וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּש וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם:
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

Hashem said that she wanted the Israelites to build Her a sanctuary so that She could dwell among them, not so that She could dwell in the sanctuary. The sanctuary would serve as a focus point for the people to use in prayer - to help them remember that the Divine Presence is always among them, travels with them wherever they are, where ever they go. Therefore the only part of this portable Mishkan that actually needs to be permanent is the poles for they facilitate the travel.

Today we no longer have a portable Mishkan. We no longer have a Temple in Jerusalem. Many of us do not even have a formal Mikdash M'at in the form of a synagogue or house of study. But even for those of us who do, that might not be enough. We need something more to sustain us, to inspire us, to feed our faith, to warm our imaginations, to make our spirits soar.  Something for which we would be willing to sacrifice part or all of our bodies or souls.    ~In my heart I will build a Sanctuary    ~בִּלְבָבִי מִשְׁכָּן אֶבְנֶה, לַהֲדַר כְּבוֹדוֹ

May we all find what we need in order to make a Mikdash M'at of ourselves, to turn our very bodies which themselves are gifts from Hashem into containers for the eternal flame of our faith/inspiration/soaring neshamot~souls.

Shabbat Shalom - rabba arlene

Source: Sefer Chareidim by R' Elazar Azkari

בִּלְבָבִי מִשְׁכָּן אֶבְנֶה, לַהֲדַר כְּבוֹדווֹ,
וּבַמִּשְׁכָּן מִזְבֵּחַ אָשִׂים, לְקַרְנֵי הוֹדוֹ.
וּלְנֵר תָּמִיד אֶקַּח לִי, אֶת-אֵש שׁהָעֲקֵדָה, 
וּלְקָרְבָּן אַקְרִיב לווֹ אֶת נַפְשִׁי,  אֶת נַפְשִׁי הַיְּחִידָה

Bil’vavi mishkan evneh, la-hadar k’vo’doh
u’va’mishkan mizbei’ach ah-sim, l’karnei hodo.
u’l’ner tamid ekach li, eit aish ha-akeda,
u’l’korban a’kriv lo et nafshi, ha’yi’chida.

    In my heart I will build a Sanctuary, to glorify G-d’s Honour/Awesomeness
    and in the Sanctuary I will place an altar,
    to  glorify/enhance G-d’s splendor.
    And for the eternal light I will take, the fire of the Akedah (binding of Isaac),
    and for a sacrifice I will offer up my soul, my unique soul.


  1. Wow - i realize I should come back here more often - there's a lot to learn from you, my friend!! I started on the one below/before this one, but it's REALLY long, and i'll have to save if for another time...

  2. Interesting point.
    A few questions...

    1. Why do you refer to G-D as "She" if the Torah uses grammar that connotes "He". I am not arguing that G-D has a gender (he does not) nor that to our minds one pronoun should be any greater than the other. That said, I am curious why you chose the one that the Torah does not?

    2. What is your source for the fact that the poles were made to illustrate the letter "bet"?...If no source isn't it hard to say that it was shaped like the letter "bet"? The letter bet does not extend out on both sides like the poles did. And even if it did, what would that have to do with "b'tocham"?

    3. Let us all associate with a mikdash! No excuses!!! We could only truly create our own mikdash inside of us if we realize and appreciate what we are trying to strive for. The mishkan represented an oasis of avodas HaShem (service to HaShem). Let us all realize the type of devotion and love to our creator that that generation exemplified. They were not "uncivilized" they were not "uncultured" they were not "uneducated". Rather, they understood the emes - truth, in listening to the word of G-D and His Torah. The Torah - Written and Oral - is by definition unchanging because it is emes and emes CANNOT change. The seal of G-D is truth and that is something we should all strive for. We must learn His Torah and follow in His ways.

    Let us hope and pray that as role-models for the world, we could rediscover ourselves and become followers of the Torah.

    Anyway, keep up the work Arlene.

    P.S. If anyone wants any supplementary reading. Here are some other great weekly portion sites:

  3. Hi! Let's see if I can answer your questions.
    1. I refer to Gd as She precisely b/c all the Gd language in the Torah in male. In my mind, Gd is genderless, I use She to correct the balance.
    2. I don't mean to say that the poles illustrate the letter "bet." Rather, the poles, as the instruments which allow the mishkan to be carried about, illustrates that letter "bet" in "b'tocham" the hebrew word which means "among them" or literally, in their midst.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Shabbat Shalom, Arlene