Friday, March 24, 2017

Shabbat and the Holy Temple: A Torah Thought for Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudai

By Moshe Feiglin

“And Moses gathered all the congregation of the Children of Israel and he said to them: These are the things that G-d commanded to do them. For six days you shall work and on the seventh day, it will be holy for you, a Shabbat of Shabbats for G-d, whoever does work on it will be put to death. You shall not burn fire in your dwellings on the day of Shabbat.” (From this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, Exodus 35: 1-3)

The commandment to observe the Shabbat is often woven together with the commandments of the Temple. What is the connection between the two?

The Temple is the royal palace. Its purpose is to make the Creator King over His world. The Shabbat also revolves around recognizing that G-d is King over His world: “It is an eternal sign for for six days G-d made the heavens and the earth.” G-d created man in His image. Man is like his Creator in his ability to create. Man can imagine a reality that does not yet exist and bring it into reality. No living being other than man has this ability. A bird can build a nest, but it is already burned onto its “hard disk.” The bird will never build a triangle nest, or paint it in psychedelic colors. Man imagines a five-pronged fork – something he has never seen – and produces it.

What usually happens then is that man decides that not only is he made in G-d’s image, but that he is god, himself. This danger is more pronounced in developed cultures; the type that produced Mozart and Tchaikovsky. This is where the Shabbat comes in. On this day, we do not produce anything. The 39 root categories of production that formed the daily service in the Temple are forbidden on Shabbat. This is our testimony to the way the world works; Who is the Creator and who is merely created in His image. It is no wonder that the culture that produced Mozart and Tchaikovsky attempted to destroy the Nation of Israel. For he who has already decided that he is the creator, the sanctity of life has no meaning and he can no longer live in a world with a nation that testifies to G-d’s existence.

Shabbat Shalom.

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