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Parshat Shemini


Parshat Shemini derives its name from Yom HaShemini, the eighth day of preparation on which the Mishkan is inaugurated. This day is arguably the most famous day in Chumash.  The entire Torah up until this point has been leading to this very day.  The Ramban calls Sefer Shemot – Sefer HaGeula – the book of Redemption.  But Sefer Shemot does not end with the leaving of Mitzraim that we just celebrated on Pesach.  The redemption that the Ramban speaks about continues to Har Sinai when HaKadosh Baruch Hu gives us our purpose and mission in life.  But Sefer Shemot does not end there either.  We still have the Parshiyot of the Mishkan, Terumah and Tetzaveh and Vayakhel and Pekudei. According to Ramban, it is Hakamat HaMishkan, the establishing of the Mishkan which represents the realization of the Geulah.

Why is this Yom HaShemini so significant that it is mentioned in Sefer Shemot, Sefer Vayikra and Sefer Bamidbar? What is it about the Mishkan that makes its establishment so very significant?

The nature of Am Yisrael’s relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu seems to stem from two different kinds of experiences: Dramatic moments of revelation, and ongoing fulfillment of mitzvoth. Each serves a different need. A dramatic moment of revelation such as Har Sinai was a one-time experience meant to overwhelm and impress HaKadosh Baruch Hu indelibly on our collective consciousness.  But it is impossible for Am Yisrael to maintain such a level of Kedushah on an ongoing basis. It is the subtle, but constant revelation of Mishkan, the place of meeting with HaKadosh Baruch Hu on a daily basis which allows us to maintain this Sinai experience throughout our daily lives.  Says the Ramban (Shemot 25:2),

 ““And they shall make the Mishkan, and HaKadosh Baruch Hu will return, and will rest His presence among them. Then they will have returned to the level of their fathers…and then they will be considered redeemed…The secret of the Mishkan is that the presence of HaKadosh Baruch Hu which dwelt explicitly on Har Sinai, dwells in the Mishkan in a more hidden way.”

It seems that the Mishkan is the place of meeting between Man and HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Here the realms of God and man merge. In the absence of the Mishkan, we use Tefilla to replace that sense of constant communication and revelation with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. May we all be Zochah to experience a sense of HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s presence in our lives as we seek to bring ourselves closer to Him. 





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