In this weeks parsha the mishkan, the central tent where the Torah was kept when we were in the desert and that eventually became the Temple in Jerusalem, was built. We've been talking about it for a few weeks already, and now the materials are donated, and the whole structure is built. All the donations were given completely voluntarily. I wonder if they tried to give them a bit of a guilt trip like the shules do nowadays :)

Anyway, one of the things they donated was jewellery that could be melted down and reformed into the various golden utensils of the Mishkan, and later to be used in the Temple, such as the menorah and the Aron hakodesh. The Torah tells us

: The men came with the women; everyone whose heart motivated him brought bracelets, nose-rings, rings, body ornaments - all sorts of gold ornaments... (Shmot 35:22) What was the need and significance of bringing the jewellery, that the Torah even lists for us each different type and piece of jewellery? We just need enough gold....who cares where it comes from? The Meshech Chochma, a commentary on the Torah, shares an deep insight on this verse as to what was really going on here, and it has enormous relevance for our own lives as well. I don't know if you have realised, but there are some objects that we each feel a strong connection to. They arouse a strong emotional connection within us, to such an extent that sometimes we cannot tear ourselves away from them. For everyone it's a different object. I'll give you an example. A smoker once told me that the reason she couldn't quit, asides from the physical addiction to smoking, was the emotional addiction.

Every cigarette was a link to all the cigarettes she had enjoyed in the past. It was a link to an image, and a wild and very damaging lifestyle, that she couldn't let go of. That object to her signified something, and that emotional connection was a strong and deep connection, and every time she had a cigarette she was experiencing in a minor way that old dangerous lifestyle that she had put behind her. Putting aside the physical connection she felt to her pack of cigarettes, this girl felt a very strong emotional connection to her Marlboro Lights, and she knew, when she was really honest about it, that that emotion was not a good one. I'm just using this as an example of how we can feel emotional connections to physical objects.

Sometimes it is a very positive and useful emotional connection, but sometimes its destructive, that when we really stop and analyse the source of that emotional connection, it's really something we would be better off without.

The Meshech Chochma says that these bracelets, nose-rings, rings and body ornaments where those type of items. It's great for Jewish women to look good, in fact, I would encourage it, and it's fine to wear all kinds of jewellery and rings to do that. But there are some items of female clothing that are not just jewellery and not just about looking good.

There is an emotion connection to them, both from the men and womens side, that if that emotion is really analysed, is not a good one. It's an emotion of complete physical lust which is not based on a value of a person or on a real relationship. That is an emotion that leads us to destruction - to adultery, broken relationships and very hurt, abused and scarred people. That was the emotion that connected the Jewish people to these rings and nose-rings and body ornaments, and it is such a strong pull! It's a physical desire that can consume a person. They took that emotion, and recognised it was destructive, and used those objects that were the focus point of that lust to build a sanctuary for Hashem where holiness could dwell amongst them. That is an incredible victory of the mind over the inclination to do bad that exists inside all of us.

There are three parts of a human being: Moach, Lev, and Caved. Or in English: The Brain, Heart, and Liver. The liver really represents the body, and the heart represents our emotions, and the brain represents our intellect. When your intellect is in control of your emotions and in turn in control of your body, you're in good shape. The first letters of Moach, Lev, and Caved form the word in hebrew Melech, or king. If you're body tells your emotions what to feel which in turn tells your mind what to think, you're not doing well. Then you're working in the opposite order of C aved -> Lev -> Moach, of which the first letters form the word Calem, which means destruction, and is the source of the word clum, which means nothing.

When your mind is in control, your a king. You're a king over yourself, and you are a king over the entire world.

When your body is in control, if you think about it, you really have nothing. If we are controlled by our base bodily desires we are just like any animal that follows it's instincts and is a slave to it's physical desires. It's when we follow our mind, and decide to do what we know is right and good, instead of blindly following our physical desires, that we become true human beings - the kings of the world, created in the image of Hashem, with limitless potential. It's such a subtle and difficult task - to recognise those desires inside of us that are unhealthy or just simply wrong, and to systematically remove them from our lives, and try to channel those same motivations that exist inside of us towards a good purpose. It's a tough one. It was hard even putting it in words! Congratulations if you made it this far :) But maybe we can take some motivation and inspiration from our ancestors from about 3000 years who did just that: Looked inside themselves, realised and that their love of this jewellery did not come from a positive place, and rather than let themselves be ruled by their physical desires, they ruled themselves with their minds. Moach/Brain -> Lev/Heart -> Caved/Liver = Me lech Mind -> Emotions -> Body - You're a King. Caved/Liver -> Lev/Heart -> Moach/Brain = Cilem Body -> Emotions -> Mind - You're headed towards destruction. I'm warning you, this is no mean feat. We're talking about some high levels of self-growth and refinement here. I'm not sure how well I am doing at this myself....but it's a life process.

Try and do it a little bit each day. It's just a question of mind over matter :) Shabbat Shalom!

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