This week's parsha is Teruma. It deals almost entirely with the building of the Mishkan. You might not be aware of the word Mishkan. It is commonly translated into english as the "Tabernacle". For years I didn't understand what that word meant. What the hell is a tabernacle? It's a ridiculous word. I think we are better off not translating from the original at all. The real term is Mishkan .

The mishkan was the place that we were told to build in which we could store the Torah that was given to us at Mt Sinai. The center of it was the Aron, the ark, in which the tablets of the Ten commandments were placed, and the broken shards of the first set of tablets, as well as the 13 Torah scrolls that Moshe wrote. Hashem tells us in our parsha that this mishkan is the place from which He will communicate with Moshe in the future, even after we leave Mt Sinai and travel through the desert. Eventually, this Mishkan, and the Aron, will become the center of the Bet Hamikdash, the Temple, when it is built in Jerusalem.

We all want to experience a closeness to Hashem. I think everyone feels that desire, that tug, inside of them. I heard a great quote recently.... some people say that they aren't the spiritual type. That the religious stuff isn't for them. But if someone has a soul, then they are automatically a spiritual type. And we all have a soul! So we are all spiritual types! Interesting.....but definitely I think we all have that desire to experience Hashem. A closeness to Him. To sense that He is there for us.

There are many different ways that we can 'see' or experience Hashem in our world. One of them is called 'Nora'. Nora means fear or awe. Sometimes we experience something - an event, a 'coincidence' that is clearly out of this world, that according to basic statistics would never have happened, and we somehow get a sense that there is something, or Someone, that is beyond this physical world, behind the scenes, pulling the strings. That there just has to be for this to have happened. When Hashem works like this, He is acting in a way that is Awesome, or Awe-inspiring. In Ivrit we would call it Nora.

The gemara (Sota 69/70) points out the the main place from which Nora can be experienced or felt is in the Temple, AND not only that, but it's due mainly to the fact that the Aron, the ark, is in the middle of it.

The Temple was a place where the constant miracles that occurred there made it crystal clear to everyone who visited there that Hashem is behind the scenes. That there is more to the world than what meets the eye - that there is a greater Force that created our world and maintains it. This is Hashem's attribute of Nora - being Awesome, or Awe-Inspiring: His running His world in a way that we can sense that He is behind the scenes. If you had been able to visit the Temple, and hopefully soon you will be able to, that's what you would have sensed. You can sort of imagine how awe-inspiring it must have been!

But the real reason the Temple had such an ability to bring about this clarity in everyone who visited it, was due to what lay at its center. Remember, we said that the center of the Temple was the Aron. Aron backwards is Nora. They are the same thing. There was something about the Aron that made it possible to clearly perceive that Hashem is running our world, and to connect to Him. What was it about the Aron that made this possible? How did the Aron, an ark, give people this incredible clarity that Hashem existed and was constantly involved in their lives?!

It was what it contained: The Torah that we were given at Mt Sinai. Inside the Aron was the tablets, the broken tablets, and the Torah scrolls that Moshe wrote. This was the center, the storehouse, of what we were given at Mt Sinai.

There is a deep lesson here. The Torah is a link between our physical world, and the spiritual world above from which it came. When we look into the Torah we can see that even our physical world, with all it's physical laws of nature and physics and biology, is just a spiritual world in disguise. Hashem created all those laws and could change them at any moment if He so desired! Really Hashem created our world as an ambitious project, with a mission, a hero, and a villian, and the story is unfolding before our very eyes.

The Torah helps us feel that Hashem is behind the scenes, and when we realize that, it's a feeling of awe, and we realise the awesomeness of Hashem. That's why Nora and Aron are basically the same word.

It takes time, but through learning Torah we can unlock the secrets of our world and come to understand our Creater, and build a closer relationship with Him. The more that we do that, the more that we too, become an Aron that can inspire those around us in the same way as the Aron of the Temple.

Shabbat Shalom!

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