02 Mar Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat T’rumah 5777
This Shabbat we read from Parashat T’rumah in which we find the opening instructions for constructing the mishkan, the Tabernacle, – the portable sanctuary that the Israelites carried around with them in the desert. Nowadays when communities build sanctuaries and synagogues we are allowed to take a bit of artistic license in the design. Clearly each synagogue has a sanctuary within which is an ark, the ner tamid (eternal light) and other features, but no two synagogues look exactly the same. Walls are different colors, flooring is different, and the arks and ner tamid are constructed differently as well. However, the construction of the mishkan followed incredibly specific instructions. God details to Moshe the types of wood, the lengths of the planks, the materials, who should do the construction, and every conceivable detail. Yet despite this major difference, there is a common feature between our modern day synagogues and the miskhan. In both cases, the ultimate goal is to create a space where people can connect with God and that God’s presence will be a part of. Whether we act as ancient Israelites following precise instructions or we follow more modern architectural design, we should always remember that the goal of the synagogue is to create a space where people can gather together and with God.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik