Ever wonder why there was a Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the Wilderness before a Mikdash (Temple) in Jerusalem? In the the word Mishkan one can hear
shakan, which means to live or dwell. The Shekhinah is the dwelling Presence of Adonai. A Mis
hkan creates a place where the Shekhinah can dwell among Israel, yet a Mi
kdash is a place of holiness (
kadash). In this week's double Torah portion, the Israelites participate in both inviting the Shekhinah in the here and now and learning practices of holiness to be practiced when a future Temple is built.
According to the Jewish sages, every soul, no matter how wicked, is allowed to glimpse the Shekinah once before being remanded to Sheol for punishment or to the Lower Garden for training in righteousness before ascending again to the holiest Presence. For the righteous, it is a glimpse of a permanent future in eternity. The Mishkan gave the High Priest glimpses obscured by clouds of incense. Practicing with a Mishkan in the wilderness
leads to life in the Heavenly Mikdash, a permanent dwelling for the Shekhinah.
According to Yeshua and the Jewish sages, the disciples of Abraham have:
1) a good eye (they are generous and happy with others' righteous successes)
2) a humble spirit
3) an undemanding soul (nefesh)
Look at the three qualities as a chiasm, which means the seed thought is in the middle. The humble spirit manifests itself in a good eye and an undemanding soul. How can one develop an undemanding soul and a good eye? It starts with a humble spirit. This does not mean being cowardly or weak. It means having a proper assessment of one's self relative first to The Holy One, and second to other people. As Rabbi Creeger said this week, it means saying to yourself each morning, "I have everything."
How can we say we have everything when we need so much more? We must! If I don't believe that the Father has given me everything I need today; in fact, that He has given me everything I've needed up until this very moment, then I will begin to look around. I will see that others have more, are entrusted with more, squander more, and in
my judgment, they have character flaws and deserve less!
Who made me the judge? If I have everything the Father wants me to have to make it through this day, I have everything because I have exactly what He wants me to have. Dayeinu. I can strive to excel, which is my service to Him, but it is He who apportions gifts on this Earth. And it is He who will apportion gifts in the Kingdom, and those gifts in no wise can be compared to mere physical ones.
What does the Mishkan service in the wilderness do for us? It kills us and reminds us that we have everything. It demonstrates the futility of having a demanding soul and begrudging others' success. We die in the wilderness through speaking out from a demanding soul.
He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. (Le 16:710)
Look for the key Hebrew words:
Seir = from 1) goat and 2) hair, referring to Esau, the Hairy Red One, (soul) nefesh
ha-Midbar = 1) wilderness or 2) speaking (medaber)
Azazel = a combination of 1) "severe" or "austere" (AZ), and "strong" or "harsh" (EL) according to Rashi, based on its use in Genesis 31:29
The strong harshness of Azazel is sent away. It perishes in a wilderness. What remains is that which has died "before the LORD," the blood (the
nefesh is in the blood) of the other goat is sprinkled in the Holy of Holies. The text
can read very literally, "...to send him to Azazel the Wilderness." The harsh strength of the soul must die in the wilderness.
Now let's skip forward to another use in Numbers 27:1-11, the case of Zelophehad's daughters who requested an inheritance of Moses because they had no brothers.
Zelophehad died in the shadow of fear, by the words of his mouth. The sages say he was one who complained about manna and the good things they supposedly had in Egypt. He therefore died by the words of his mouth, a harsh mouth that raced ahead of his spiritual future.
A compound word can be made from Zelophahad, which is
tzel (shadow) and
pachad (fear). The shadow of fear in his life was not mastered by the faith that the Holy One could prepare a table of manna in the presence of all the surrounding enemies. His daughters, corresponding to the five books of the Torah, lived by the humble, faithful Word of Torah instead of dying by speaking out from a demanding soul.
Ironically, after Moses resolves the case in favor of the daughters, the very next verses describe to Moses his error and his own death:
Then the L
said to Moses, "Go up to this mountain of Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the sons of Israel.
When you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother
for in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My
to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water." (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) (Ex 27:12-14)
To Numbers 27, add the context of the daughters of Zelophehad to the last two weeks' newsletters on the death of Miriam at Kadesh, and it's sobering...and exhilarating!
Zelophehad's daughters want an inheritance in the "world to come," of which their future home in Israel was the physical earnest. Their request for more was not a proud "bad eye," but a "good eye," wanting to remember their father and establish a memorial of success through his female descendants.
They lived in the wilderness because they believed they had everything; they received an inheritance in Israel because they spoke in faith that there was more. Mishkan. Mikdash.
In last week's newsletter, we examined Psalm 23 as the song of "crossing over" to the Lower Garden.
B'gei Tzalmavet is the Valley of the Shadow of Death where the righteous dead shall not fear.
Tzal is the shadow of Tzelophehad's fearful, ungrateful name.
Examine the play-on words, (
devarim), of Zelophehad's daughters:
This can also be translated to say, "Our father died through speaking out." Obviously speaking out is not faithlessness; it is
one speaks that demonstrates the power or disempowering of the Word in the one who speaks. Zelophehad's daughters had to speak out before Moses, Eleazar, and the entire congregation in order to press into their promise and portion in the Torah.
Remember last week's Scripture?
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (Ps 116:15)
Let the proud, disbelieving soul die in the wilderness. It is no home for the Shekhinah, nor is it prepared for a permanent, holy Temple in Jerusalem. Let us instead order our words and steps, believing that we have everything we need. Let us be disciples of Abraham with undemanding souls. We need not fear.
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