By In addition to being the best-selling author of all time, G-d in this weeks Torah portion demonstrates his unrivaled architectural prowess. Working with the Moses-Betzalel Construction Company, G-d provides the blueprints for an amazing architectural creation.
In addition to being the best-selling author of all time, G-d in this weeks Torah portion demonstrates his unrivaled architectural prowess. Working with the Moses-Betzalel Construction Company, G-d provides the blueprints for an amazing architectural creation. Hashem commands Moses to construct the Mishkan, a portable sanctuary (a.k.a. the Tabernacle), to be the resting place for the Shechinah, the Divine presence. From the instructions that G-d gives to Moses we learn about the Mishkans architecture and specific lessons for self-improvement.
The key feature of the Tabernacle (and later in history the Temple) was the ark. G-d commands Moses, You shall make on it a gold crown all around (Exodus 25:11). The gold crown on the ark represents the crown of Torah, and symbolized the tablets held within the ark. G-d also commands Moses to make two Cherubim of gold to stand on both ends of the cover of the ark, to shelter it with their wings. (ibid. 25:18).
G-d goes through exacting detail of the construction of the Mishkan to teach important lessons to the Jewish people. Given that this is the case, what do the Cherubim represent? The Torah explains that they were angels with the faces of children. Further, the Talmud (Tractate Sukkah 5b) records that the Hebrew word cherub is very similar to the Aramaic word ceravya, meaning like a child. Thus, the Cherubim on the ark represent children. If so, what can we learn from the fact that G-d commanded us to place child-like images on top of the holy ark?
There is in interesting story recorded in the Midrash about the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Rebbe Meir repeats a discussion between G-d and the Jewish people. In it, G-d asks the people who will be the guarantors to ensure that the Jews will observe the Torah forever. The people first answer our forefathers, and then say our prophets, but both answers are rejected by G-d. Finally, the people answer correctly and say, our children will be our guarantors. Only then, is G-d willing to grant us the Torah. The Torah, as the core of the Jewish people, needs to be cherished, studied, and passed on to our children in every generation. The strength and vibrancy of the Jewish people comes from our faithfulness to this mission.
From here, we see the lesson of the Cherubim, with their faces pointed downwards at the crown of Torah. These are our children, who will be the ones to study and practice the Torah, to make sure that Judaism remains vibrant through every generation. It is up to the parents to make sure that their children live up to this task. Rav Wolbe, one of the leading Torah thinkers of our generation, explains, A parent must ignite the soul of his child so that the flames of love for Torah burn on their own. It is up to each and every parent to provide his or her child with a love of Torah.
How can a parent do this? Rav Wolbe provides numerous practical suggestions about how to cultivate the love of Torah in ones children. For starters, it is important to set an example for ones children, to act as role models, and to have kavanah (proper intention) when performing a mitzvah, reciting a blessing, or praying. Rav Wolbe explains that when a child sees a parent saying a blessing out loud, the child recognizes that the parent is talking to somebody. Through this, the child begins to recognize the existence of G-d. Parents have an obligation to actively teach their children, but they must approach the child based on his abilities and his level. Each child is different, and so too, his Torah education needs to be custom-designed for him.
It is necessary to draw the child in and make Judaism and the Torah come alive. It is also important for parents to pray for the welfare of their children, and to set a strong example by spending time studying Torah and performing mitzvot. Through these and other actions, parents can be successful in instilling a love of Torah in their children.
How do we know that our efforts will be successful? In the beginning of the Torah portion, G-d tells Moses, They shall make a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them (Exodus 25:8). By saying they, G-d puts the obligation of Torah education on the entire community. Every Jew should have a role in raising the children of the community. This verse also contains a deeper message, through its seemingly ontradictory language. G-d commands Moses to make a sanctuary (singular) so that I may dwell among them (plural). Numerous commentators explain that this refers to the personal sanctuaries that each of us creates in ourselves when we dedicate ourselves to G-d. This can also apply to ones children. By setting strong examples for them and by raising them with a love for mitzvot and Torah, they will become resting places for the Divine presence.
G-d commands Moses to construct a sanctuary to be the resting place for His presence. This commandment did not apply only to the Jews in the desert, but it applies throughout history to Jews in every generation. G-d commands us in every generation to instill in our children a love of Torah and mitzvot, so they will become mini-sanctuaries, resting places for G-ds holiness. By doing so, we create a place for G-d in this world, and by remaining true to the Torah, we ensure the survival of the Jewish people for generations to come.
Michael Gros, an alumnus of Emory University in Atlanta, is studying at Yeshivat Darche Noam in Jerusalem. He looks forward to his August wedding, and to the beginning of creating a family and his own mini-sanctuaries.
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