When we study the measurements of the vessels in the
, we note that some measurements are full measurements while others are fractional or a combination of full and fractional. We also note that the placement of these furnishings is meant to be instructional. As Rabbi Hofstedter
Hashem revealed the secrets of existence to Moshe at Sinai, and showed him how to build the
to parallel the very universe itself.
Rabbi Hofstedter in citing the
, notes that that all the measurements of the
which represents total spirituality are fractional. This is to teach us that we may never consider ourselves whole and complete in relation to the spiritual. Our spiritual quest must be continual, for we are always capable of reaching greater heights. Our search for knowledge of Hashem through Torah study should be unquenchable. He cites the Midrash on Yaakov's blessing of Menashe and Ephraim comparing them to fish. Fish are submerged in water all their lives, yet when it rains they surface and try to catch the raindrops. So too, while totally immersed in the life giving waters of Torah, we should nevertheless eagerly thirst for and internalize each new insight into Torah.
The width and length of the Table are expressed in whole measurements, while its height is fractional. The Table represents both the kingship and the economic well being that the king is responsible for. When it comes to material possessions, one should perceive himself as whole and complete. However, when observing others who may be less fortunate, one should feel a sense of responsibility and help them with their needs.
notes that material blessings flowed from the Table as their source, as God no longer creates substance
But material blessings also contain a spiritual element that we must never forget. The Table was in the north while the Menorah, representing the wisdom and light of Torah, was south. Yet the two were facing each other. As the
says, one must never mistake one's success as the result of his own efforts, but must attribute it to Hashem's support. The showbread on the Table remained fresh on the Table from one
to the next to teach us the very concept that Hashem is the One Who sustains us while using the food as His medium. This does not mean that we can sit idly and wait for Hashem to provide for us. We must put in effort. However our self- definition should not be defined by our work but rather by how we create a spiritual life, viewing work as a means to sustain the spiritual essence.
The interdependence of the physical with the spiritual also explains why the instructions for constructing the Table precede the instructions for constructing the Menorah, yet when the Torah outlines the placement of these furnishings, it begins with the placement of the Table, interjects the placement of the Menorah, and then completes the instructions for placing the Table. As the
Im ein kemach, ein Torah
- if there is no food, there is no Torah." Although we need to eat to live, our spiritual needs must always be at the forefront. As the
says, while at times we must put our attention to the south, to the Table and sustenance, we must always be cognizant of the reflection of the Menorah from the north as the Table and the Menorah face each other.
There were two crowns over the Table. The first crown represents the challenge of wealth, rising above the resistance to share one's affluence with others and not constantly desiring more, says the
. The second crown teaches us that by treating one's table as holy, one has the ability to elevate one's food to a divine status. The
provides some guidelines
We must treat our food with the respect it deserves. We must thank the Giver of the food with full sincerity both before and after the meal. And we must further remember God during the meal by citing words of Torah.
The Ark, the Altar and the Table were made from the special acacia wood,
. Rabbi Frand cites Rabbeinu Bachya that it is an acronym for the blessings the Temple service will bring to the Jewish people:
, peace, goodness, salvation, and forgiveness. However, now that we no longer have the
all we have is our own earthly table which we must endeavor to elevate to a spiritual status by using it as a vehicle for welcoming travelers and feeding the poor. Then our own table can become a personal altar of atonement.