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A GUIDE TO THE TABERNACLE

by Editorial Staff    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

The following is a brief description of some of the major highlights and features of the Tabernacle built by the Jewish people in the desert. As you study Parshat Terumah, we hope this guide will lend perspective and clarity to an intricate and exciting Torah portion. Log onto our website to view a diagram of the Mishkan and its components.

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The following is a brief description of some of the major highlights and features of the Tabernacle built by the Jewish people in the desert. As you study Parshat Terumah, we hope this guide will lend perspective and clarity to an intricate and exciting Torah portion. Log onto our website to view a diagram of the Mishkan and its components.

Mishkan - the portable Tabernacle constructed by the Jewish people in the desert. It accompanied them into the land of Israel and remained the focal point of their Divine service for more than 400 years, until the construction of its permanent and much larger replacement, the Beit HaMikdash (Temple in Jerusalem), by King Solomon. With the Mishkan's completion and the accompanying resting of the Divine presence amongst the Jewish people, the elevated status that they reached at Mt. Sinai acquired a degree of permanence in the Israelite camp, for the Mishkan itself resembled a continual reenactment of the Sinai experience. As the second book of the Torah closes with the establishment of the Mishkan, the miraculous exodus from Egypt achieves its purpose.

THE ARON

Aron - the holy Ark (Exodus 25:10-16) in which the Torah scroll and tablets of the Ten Commandments were housed. The aron was the central feature of the Mishkan and was located in the western portion of the structure, in the Holy of Holies. Representative of the Torah which it housed, the aron was the only vessel towards which every member of the Jewish people made a direct contribution, symbolic of the necessity for everyone to participate in Torah study. Upon the aron rested the kaporet (ibid. 25:17-22), a magnificent covering out of which the golden Cherubim were fashioned. (Please see Chaim Saiman's Think Tank in this week's issue for further discussion of the Cherubim.)

Parochet - the hanging partition (ibid. 26:31-33) separating the Holy of Holies, where the Ark was located, from the rest of the inner chamber of the Mishkan to the east. The inner chamber contained the following three major vessels: the shulchan, the menorah, and the mizbe'ach haketoret.

THE SHULCHAN

Shulchan - the specially fabricated table (ibid. 25:23-30) upon which the lechem hapanim (show-bread) was continually displayed. It was located in the northern portion of the Mishkan's inner chamber. Constructed upon the table were two columns of six shelving tubes, upon which the twelve loaves of bread were displayed each week. (Please see Food for Thought by Ranon Cortell for a discussion of the wondrous show-bread.) Because of the physical nature of the bread displayed on the shulchan, it is representative of material prosperity, and Hashem's blessings of sustenance to the Jewish people flowed through its remarkable loaves.

THE MENORAH

Menorah - the candelabra (ibid. 25:31-40) with seven branches, fashioned out of one solid piece of gold, located in the southern portion of the Mishkan's inner chamber. Each of the menorah's branches was intricately engraved with decorative knobs, cups, and flower-like figures, and pure olive oil illuminated its flames. The commentaries explain that the menorah is symbolic of the illumination of the intellect, and Hashem directed His blessings of wisdom to the Jewish people through the menorah.

THE GOLDEN ALTAR

Mizbe'ach haketoret - the golden altar (ibid. 30:1-10) upon which the incense was offered every morning and evening. It was located in the center of the Mishkan's inner chamber.

Chatzer - the large outer courtyard (ibid. 27:9-19) of the Mishkan. Its full dimensions were roughly 200x100 feet. Located in this courtyard was the second of the Mishkan's two altars, the mizbe'ach hanechoshet (copper altar), upon which most of the offerings were brought (ibid. 27:1-8).

Kiyor - the copper laver (ibid. 30:17-21) in the courtyard of the Mishkan. Before performing the service, the Kohanim were required to sanctify their hands and feet from its water.

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