In our Parsha we find the final stages of preparation for the Mishkan. Though the Mishkan was in use for the duration of Yisrael’s forty year journey in the desert, it is well known that it was eventually replaced after Yisrael’s conquering of the Land of Israel. There, in Jerusalem the Beis Ha’Mikdash was erected and provided the long-term site where a connection between the Heavens and earth was to be found. The Gemora in Eiruvin 2a cites several verses to prove that the words Mishkan and Mikdash are in fact used interchangeably. In other words, there are times that the Mishkan is referred to as a Mikdash and times when the Beis HaMikdash is referred to as Mishkan. What is the relationship between these different terms, and what is the inner meaning of each? The Shem Mishmuel explains that Mikdash stems from the root קדוש, often mistranslated as ‘holy’, but more accurately means set aside or designated. When referring to the concept of Kedushah per se, we mean the pursuit of more spiritually uplifting behaviour, ‘designating’ ourselves for a more elevated way of living. The Beis HaMikdash is the place where ordinary laws of time and space cease to exist as they do everywhere else in the universe. For example, fresh loaves were prepared every week for the Shulchan. These loaves remained in the same place for an entire week at which point they were cut up and divided among the Kohanim. At this time they were still exactly as fresh as the moment they had come out of the oven. In other words, time does not play a part in the functioning of the Beis HaMikdash, it is the one place on Earth that has a direct link to the spiritual, with a complete disassociation from the physical. This place is called Mikdash because it is the place where people can come and energise themselves spiritually. Here they can lose their more earthy desires, replacing them instead with the desire to relate to the Creator of the world. From this perspective we see the Beis HaMikdash as a ‘bottom-up’ process, where the Jewish People start the momentum. The Mishkan, on the other hand, has the connotations of H’ dwelling, as it were, among us, leaving His Heavenly abode and resting His Divine Presence down here. This can be seen from the fact that the word Mishkan (משכן) stems from the word שכן, neighbour or שוכן, dwell. In other words, the term Mishkan implies a connection which operates ‘top-down’. Rav Tzadok HaCohen explains these two expressions differently. He says that part of the major function of the Mishkan was as a way to repair the damage Yisrael had done in the sin of the Golden Calf. This would imply that when using the term Mishkan we identify it as a place where we can restore our relationship with H’. As we mentioned above, Mikdash implies designation and therefore sanctity from all things purely physical. Whereas the Shem Mishmuel understands this to mean a place where humans can achieve such sanctity, Rav Tzadok explains that Mikdash is a place that is sanctified beyond the mundane world. From these commentaries we are granted a deeper understanding of the role of the Mishkan and the Beis Ha’Mikdash. In both these places there is an element of H’ being among us even without our inducing His doing so, and more so, even if we are in a state that proves unworthy of experiencing His presence. On the other hand, Mishkan/Mikdash is a place that reaches beyond the confines of space and time, and is above the triviality of the events in this world.

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