From the Pen of Executive Director Alison C. Brown
It is said that the tabernacle described in Exodus is a metaphor for our inner realms, the way our spirit works together with our mind to negotiate life. Parsha Terumah delineates the myriad details necessary to construct the Tabernacle. Commentators note, “God’s presence is not found in a building. It is found in the hearts and the souls of the people ….” It is our spirit, soul and mind that fashions a tabernacle, a mishkan, for God’s presence. Accordingly, our thoughts must be intentionally fashioned.
Later Torah verses describe the making of Aaron’s priestly vestments including the ephod (a short coat “girded” on over other garments). The ephod, say commentators, protects the wearer against the dangers of idolatry and symbolizes a right relation between man and God. Those who were “skillful” (hochme-lev, wise of heart) would cunningly “weave” (hoshev, thinking) gold with blue, purple and crimson yarns into the ephod’s fine linen. These materials were woven with thought and a wise heart to create a relationship with God. Our relationship with God includes our thoughts. If my microwave is beeping to remind me of the coffee I reheated, I can either weave thoughts of annoyance because the beeping won’t stop and I’m busy or I can skillfully and cunningly weave thoughts of appreciation for the gift of coffee and offer up this moment of thankfulness to the Source of Being. A mind, spirit and soul steeped in prayer and meditation will default to the latter.
What if we took care of our spirit as we, often without thinking about it, take care of our body? Create a Jewish practice. Five minutes here and five minutes there creates space for a mishkan, a place inside that is nurturing. That is what the Torah alludes to. “Make Me a sanctuary for Me to dwell in.” There is a space inside of us that is dynamic, upstanding and attuned to the One-ness. Think about that when you walk down the hall at work. There is a space inside of us that is dynamic, upstanding and attuned to the One-ness.