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Music of Halacha: Shabbat #10

Reflections and Review

The Children of Israel were commanded to construct a Tabernacle, a portable House for the Divine Presence. The commandment empowered human beings through their very finite actions to achieve something infinite; their

physical structure actually served as a place for the limitless Divine Presence to rest in this world.

They completed their work in three months having meticulously followed God’s detailed instructions. They gathered all their valuable possessions in three days, actually collecting more than necessary for the Tabernacle. They captured animals for their skins; they shaved wool and spun it into magnificent curtains and covers.

They had been granted a gift; God gave them the means to utilize the same creative and physical urges to build a home for Him. that they used when making the Golden Calf. They were desperate for forgiveness. They needed to succeed, though; they did not know whether they would succeed.

They finished their work; all the parts were ready, but did not immediately assemble the Tabernacle. They waited three agonizing months to erect their structure. The building went up, piece-by-piece, section-by-section, until it was complete. All the while, the people stood around waiting to see what would happen. They had no idea what would, or even what should happen, only that hey were waiting for something.

A cloud appeared: The same cloud they had seen at Sinai. It was the Cloud of Revelation. The cloud appeared, hovering over the building, then, it rested over the structure, proof they had succeeded. Human beings had built a home for the Divine Presence. They had brought back the Cloud of Revelation, the one they forfeited with the sin of the Golden Calf. They were forgiven. They had achieved greatness.

We do not believe that they succeeded due to their craftsmanship or following instructions. They were empowered by the commandment to build the Tabernacle, as each commandment empowers us – to create spiritual realities. Reciting “Who has sanctified us with His commandments” is our way of acknowledging that empowerment. They were given the power to succeed, but that was not how and why they succeeded. They achieved the Infinite with their creativity, intention, awareness and sense of purpose. Thought filled the shell of physical action with spiritual substance.

The Music of Halacha is our application of the principles of “Thoughtful Action” to every action that is related to our service of God. The commandments certainly empower us; however, our challenge is how to take full advantage of that power. The Torah qualifies an action by its inner being, its thought, purpose and intention. When the Torah prohibits an action on Shabbat it is only because that action is so powerful and important. Its prohibition is an indication of it significance. From the Biblical prohibitions of Shabbat, we derive what are the definitions of meaningful actions.

This is the point is where I hear the opening chords of the symphony of Shabbat laws. Each category is a separate section of the orchestra, each detail a different instrument – strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion. Their music permeates our lives adding harmony and resonance. Please continue to accompany me and listen to the Music of Halacha.

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