Mishkan, what is its Purpose?

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Teruma, we are introduced to the concept of building the Mishkan\Tabernacle.  God instructs Moshe Rabbenu about the different vessels and the external structure which will house the Divine Presence in camp of the Bnai Yisrael.  What is the purpose of the Mishkan?  Why is the command and building of the Mishkan a subject which is elaborated at such great length in Torah (almost 5 full Torah portions)?

To be able to understand this idea, we must look first at the background which precedes the instruction?

God calls Moshe to once again ascend on Mt. Sinia.  After waiting for a period of six days, Moshe comes forth on the seventh day. Toward what is Moshe approaching?  The chosen leader of Am Yisrael is called on to receive an up-close view of the Divine Presence dwelling or resting on Mt. Sinia.  The Torah uses the same root word to describe the honor of God’s presence on Har Sinia וישכון as the name of the Tabernacle itself משכן.  The root word being ש-כ-ן.

Based on the above, the Ramba”n, in his commentary on the Torah, teaches us that the secret of the Mishkan is to take the Divine Presence, which is in meta-physical form on Har Sinia, and ultimately replicate it in physical form within the camp of Bnai Yisrael.  Revelation at Sinia was such a central moment in Jewish history, we were immediately commanded to build a structure which would enable the Jewish People to capture it and take it with us as we traveled in the desert and into the Land of Israel.    The Temple which stood in Yerushalayim housed the final and ultimate resting place of the Divine Presence, which was meant to remain for perpetuity.  The intention was that the People of Israel would have a continuously intimate relationship with God, as we had at the outset – at Sinia.

Even though we have been orphaned from the Divine Presence resting in Yerushalayim for nearly 2,000 years, it is our greatest hope that we will soon merit Its return speedily in our time!

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