15 Adar I 5760
From the Desk of: Mrs. Miriam Kahane
You can still picture so vividly in your mind’s eye the happiness and contentment you felt during your year in Seminary. The growth in Torah, in Yiras Shamayim, in Avodas Hashem. Kedusha seemed to surround you somehow, enveloping you at every turn. And now, your thoughts turn to worry and despair – “How can I ever achieve those ruchnious heights again? It seems so impossible! In Eretz Yisrael it seemed so much easier. With college, work, and so many gashmius distractions here in chutz la’aretz it seems impossible sometimes.”
Don’t despair! Just because Seminary has come to an end it doesn’t mean your ruchnious has as well. How can we build upon the strong foundation that we built in Seminary?
“Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh…” We sing it with our mouths but what we must do is contemplate it with our hearts. We are proclaiming that we are going to build a Mishkan in our hearts. What does this mean?
In the Parshios that we are reading now we see Hashem command B’nei Yisroel to construct a Mishkan. Rav Chaim Freedlander zt”l writes in Sifsei Chaim that before Adam Harishon sinned, Shechina dwelled everywhere. After Adam sinned, the Shechina went up to the first “rakiya”. As the generations got worse and worse the Shechina went up higher and higher, away from the earth. Then each of the Avos, with their maasim tovim, came and brought the Shechina down,closer and closer to the physical world. Until Matan Torah, when Moshe Rabeinu brought the Shechina completely back to the earth. Then what happened? Chayt Ha’aygel! At Chayt Ha’aygel the Shechina went back up to Shamayim. Immediately after that, Hashem commands Bnei Yisroel to build a Mishkan so that there can once again be a special place for His Shechina to dwell on this earth.
The purpose of the Mishkan was to enable Hashem’s Shechina to dwell on this earth as well as in the hearts of each and every Jew. “V’asu li Mikdash Veshachanti B’sochum”.
It’s interesting to note that THE place where Hashem’s Shechina dwells, the place of intense ruchnious and kedusha, was made out of VERY PHYSICAL MATERIALS! Gold, wood, copper and the list goes on and on. Not only that, but the activites that would take place there would be VERY PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES! Slaughtering animals, eating Korbanos (steak every night for dinner!)… Just go through the parshios (Truma, T’tzaveh, Ki Sisa) and you will find that we are being told about gems and metals and vessels and animals and clothing. It seems so contradictory if what we are talking about is building a place of ruchnious and kedushah.
But that is exactly the point. Hashem wants us to use PHYSICAL MATERIALS in order to create a place for His Shechina to dwell. He wants us to create ruchnious from gashmious.
And this is the special talent of a woman. Throughout Jewish History we see that the nashim tzidkaniot have had this ability to elevate the gashmius. The kiyor in the Mishkan was made out of the mirrors that the women in Mitzrayim used to beautify themselves for their husbands. The women were always eager and willing to donate their jewelry to the mishkan. Women are always found by wells throughout the Torah. Why? Because in wells, water moves upward. This symbolizes the idea that women are able to elevate the gashmious.
We always have to remember that we are able to take the physicality around us and use it for kedusha, l’shaym shamayim. We don’t have to close ourselves off from the physical world to achieve spirituality. And b’ezras Hashem, when all of you are wives and mothers, you will have even more of an opportunity to elevate the world around you. The 3 special mitzvos of women are: Challa, ner shabbos, and niddah. Challa elevates physical sustenance. Ner Shabbos elevates time. Niddah elevates the guf.
So whenever you get those “Post-Seminary Blues” just remember “Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh” – that you can build a mishkan in your heart by taking gashmious and using it for kedusha just as bnei Yisroel did in the Midbar to build the mishkan. In this way you will forever be building on the beautiful foundation of kedusha that you built in Seminary.