The following ideas were taken from The ,שפתי חיים Rabbi Chaim Friedlander זצ”ל.
Before creating Adam, Hashem consulted with the angels. Since man is the purpose of creation, and the angels were created to serve him, Hashem included them in the decision.
מדרש רבה בראשית – פרשה יז פסקה ד
א”ר אחא בשעה שבא הקב”ה לבראת את האדם נמלך במלאכי השרת אמר להן נעשה אדם אמרו לו אדם זה מה טיבו אמר להן חכמתו מרובה משלכם הביא לפניהם את הבהמה ואת החיה ואת העוף אמר להם זה מה שמו ולא היו יודעין העבירן לפני אדם אמר לו זה מה שמו אמר זה שור זה חמור זה סוס וזה גמל ואתה מה שמך אמר לו אני נאה להקרא אדם שנבראתי מן האדמה
Rav Acha taught. When Hashem was about to create Man, He consulted with the angels; “Should I create Man?” They responded, “This Man, what is he like?” Hashem answered them. “His wisdom is greater than yours!” Hashem brought the animals, wild beasts and birds before the angels, and asked them, “What is this one’s name?” They didn’t know. Hashem passed them before Adam, and asked him, “What’s this one’s name?” Adam answered, “This one is an ox, this one is a mule, this one is a horse and this one is a camel.” Hashem then asked Man, “And what is your name?” Man responded, “I should be called Adam, because I was created from adama – earth.”
This Midrash begs for an explanation. If the angels didn’t know what to call the animals, how did Adam? How could he know more than the angels?
And why, of all possible names for himself, did he choose the seemingly most insignificant source, that he came from the earth? What about having been created in the image of Hashem with freedom of choice?
Adam chose this name for himself because it defined his purpose in the world.
An angel is a spiritual entity created for a specific mission and has no connection to the physical world. His knowledge is limited to the spiritual mission at hand. On the other hand, Adam, a human being created from earth, has his purpose in this world to convert material things into spiritual things by using them as tools for his service to Hashem. By using a physical item to serve Hashem, the item becomes sanctified, since it served as a means for bringing him closer to Hashem.
This is what Adam meant when he said my name should be Adam. Just as one who makes pots is called a potter and one who makes shoes is called a shoemaker, I, who make spirituality from earth, should be called Adam.
This is why Adam knew exactly what to call each animal. Man, and his unique service to Hashem, is the purpose for creation. Hashem created the animals and everything in the world as tools for man to use in his service to Him. When used to serve Hashem, mundane items are transformed into spiritual ones.
Upon his creation, Adam had the wisdom and clarity of vision to see the unique properties of each of Hashem’s creations, and how he was intended to use it in his service to Hashem. He deeply understood the essential property of each item, identifying its purpose and use for man, and commensurate to that, gave it its name.
This is what Rabbi Abba bar Kahana meant when he said in the Midrash (Bereshit Rabba 19:7):
א”ר אבא בר כהנא … עיקר שכינה בתחתונים היתה
Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said, “The main dwelling place for Hashem’s presence was in the human beings (not the angels).”
Angels are spiritual beings created for a specific purpose and do not have the ability to transform material matter into spiritual matter. Only man, through using the material world in his service to Hashem can accomplish that. Since man has the ability to use the material world for his own pleasure and self-aggrandizement, and instead, chooses to use it only as a tool to serve Hashem, by subjecting his will to Hashem’s, he is bringing the presence of Hashem into the world. A G-d fearing person’s actions project Hashem into the world.
The Midrash continues:
א”ר אבא בר כהנא … עיקר שכינה בתחתונים היתה כיון שחטא אדם הראשון נסתלקה שכינה לרקיע הראשון חטא קין נסתלקה לרקיע השני דור אנוש לג’ דור המבול לד’ דור הפלגה לה’ סדומיים לו’ ומצרים בימי אברהם לז’ וכנגדן עמדו ז’ צדיקים ואלו הן אברהם יצחק ויעקב לוי קהת עמרם משה עמד אברהם והורידה לו’ עמד יצחק והורידה מן ו’ לה’ עמד יעקב והורידה מן הה’ לד’ עמד לוי והורידה מן הד’ לג’ עמד קהת והורידה מן הג’ לב’ עמד עמרם והורידה מן הב’ לא’ עמד משה והורידה מלמעלה למטה
Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said, “The main dwelling place for the Shechina – Hashem’s presence – was in human beings. Once Adam sinned, the Shechina, – Hashem’s presence – went up to the first level of the heavens, when Cain sinned it went to the second, when the generation of Enosh sinned by serving idols, it went up to the third, when the generation of the flood sinned, it went up to the fourth, when they built the Tower of Babel, it went up to the fifth, when the city of Sedom sinned, it went up to the sixth, and when Egypt in the times of Avraham sinned, it went up to the seventh heaven. Corresponding to these seven sinners, there were seven righteous people who brought the Shechina back down. Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Levi, Kehat, Amram, and Moshe. Each one brought it down one level until Moshe came and brought it back to earth.
Moshe brought the Shechina back to the earth by bringing us the Torah from Sinai. The Torah describes the awesome scene at Mount Sinai as a result of Hashem’s Shechina upon it.(Exodus 19:18).
(יח) וְהַר סִינַי עָשַׁן כֻּלּוֹ מִפְּנֵי אֲשֶׁר יָרַד עָלָיו יְדֹוָד בָּאֵשׁ וַיַּעַל עֲשָׁנוֹ כְּעֶשֶׁן הַכִּבְשָׁן וַיֶּחֱרַד כָּל הָהָר מְאֹד
18) All of Mount Sinai was smoking because Hashem had descended upon it in fire: its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the entire mountain shuddered exceedingly.
Of course the Shechina was on Mount Sinai when Hashem spoke to the Jewish people, but after the event was over, the Shechina left, so why does the Midrash say that Moshe restored the Shechina to the earth?
In this week’s portion, Teruma, Hashem commanded Moshe to tell the Jewish people to donate the materials necessary to build the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. What was the purpose of the Mishkan?
Hashem told us (Exodus 25:8).
(ח) וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם:
8) They shall build a Sanctuary for Me – so that I may dwell among them.
Nachmanides in his commentary on the Torah (25:1) explains:
וסוד המשכן הוא, שיהיה הכבוד אשר שכן על הר סיני שוכן עליו בנסתר … והיה במשכן תמיד עם ישראל הכבוד שנראה להם בהר סיני
The deep purpose of the Mishkan is that Hashem’s honor, His Shechina that was present on Mount Sinai, should dwell invisibly in the Mishkan … such that, in the Mishkan the Shechina that rested on Mount Sinai would constantly be with the Jewish nation.
Hashem’s Shechina returned to earth when they received the Torah on Sinai, and its permanent dwelling place among the people would be in the sanctuary that they would build; the Mishkan. The Sinai event, Hashem speaking to Moshe, continued via the Mishkan since the Torah teaches us that Moshe heard the voice of Hashem speak with him from the cover of the Holy Ark (Numbers 7:89). Hence, with the building of the Mishkan, Hashem’s original plan, that the main station for His Shechina be with humans, was once again realized.
This may sound illogical. How could Hashem’s Shechina dwell in a material building? The Midrash (Shemot Rabba 35:6) informs us that Moshe Rabbeinu had this very same question.
מדרש רבה שמות – פרשה לה פסקה ו
ועשית את הקרשים למשכן א”ר אבין משל למלך שהיה לו איקונין נאה אמר לבן ביתו עשה לי כמותה א”ל אדוני המלך איך יכול אני לעשות כמותה א”ל אתה בסממניך ואני בכבודי כך אמר הקב”ה למשה וראה ועשה אמר לפניו רבון העולם אלוה אני שאני יכול לעשות כאלו א”ל כתבניתם בתכלת ובארגמן ותולעת שני וכשם שאתה רואה למעלה כך עשה למטה שנאמר עצי שטים עומדים כנתון באיסטרטיא של מעלה ואם תעשה כאותה של מעלה למטה אני מניח סנקליטין של מעלה ומשרה שכינתי ביניכם למטה
Rabbi Avin said: Hashem’s commandment to Moshe to build the Mishkan out of beams could be compared to a king with a beautiful palace, who told his children to make him a palace just like it. They responded, “Our Master the King! How could we possibly replicate your palace?” The king answered, “You just make a picture of it on paper with your colored crayons, and I will consider it my palace of honor.” Similarly, Moshe asked Hashem, “How could we create a spiritual place for You? Am I a god with spiritual powers?” Hashem answered, “With the materials I recommend, make a copy of what you see in heaven – on earth, and I will leave My court in heaven and place My Shechina among you on earth.”
Hashem answered Moshe. I know you cannot create spirituality. You are made from earth and can only use material items, but, take your material things and make a replica of what you see in heaven, and I will place my Shechina in it.
Hashem wishes to dwell among us. What do we have to do to bring Hashem’s Shechina into ourselves and into our homes? We have to take the material resources that Hashem gives us and use them to serve Him. When we do that, Hashem sanctifies our deeds, and brings His Shechina to us.
Here lies the greatness of man that exceeds even the holiness of angels. Man can serve Hashem by using material things, through which he makes himself a receptacle for Hashem’s holiness to reside, even in this earthly world. In the process, the objects used in that process, also become holy.
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (1707-1747) expresses this idea most eloquently in his sefer, Path of the Just (Chapter 1).
וְאִם הוּא שׁוֹלֵט בְּעַצְמוֹ וְנִדְבָּק בְּבוֹרְאוֹ וּמִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ מִן הָעוֹלָם רַק לִהְיוֹת לוֹ לְסִיּוּעַ לַעֲבֹד בּוֹרְאוֹ, הוּא מִתְעַלֶּה וְהָעוֹלָם עַצְמוֹ מִתְעַלֶּה עִמּוֹ. כִּי הִנֵּה עִלּוּי גָּדוֹל הוּא לַבְּרִיּוֹת כֻּלָּם בִּהְיוֹתָם מְשַׁמְּשֵׁי הָאָדָם הַשָּׁלֵם הַמְקֻדָּשׁ בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ
If a man takes control of himself, and clings to Hashem by using the material world only as a tool to help him in his service to Hashem, he elevates himself, and the entire world (becomes elevated) with him. Because it creates a great spiritual boost for any material object to serve as a tool in a holy person’s service to Hashem.
The lesson of the Mishkan applies to the fulfillment of all the mitzvot. As we choose to honor Hashem by overriding our personal desires in favor of Hashem’s, and use the physical props that Hashem has commanded us to use according to the guidelines provided in the Torah, we create a place for Hashem to deposit the holiness into us. This not only applies to physical things such as tefillin, and mezuzah. It applies to our talents and resources as well. When we use our G-d given talents and our wealth to further Hashem’s agenda in the world, we are creating wellsprings of holiness within our souls.
This is why reciting blessings over what we eat is so important. When we use the piece of fruit, for example, as a tool to bring us closer to Hashem, it sanctifies us and the piece of fruit. Since the fruit connected us to Hashem by triggering a feeling of closeness and gratitude to Hashem for His kindness to us, we have opened a portal in our hearts for holiness and the fruit that we are about to eat has also become elevated.
There is a fascinating study done by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto which shows the effects of our speech on matter.
He took a cup of pure water drawn from a spring or river, put it in a room, and had people in the room say either positive or negative statements. He then put a small volume of water in a petri dish and froze it at -25 degrees C for three hours. The frozen water was removed and looked at under a microscope with a magnifying power of 500x in a room kept at -5 degrees. Here are pictures of the results.
These pictures were the results of good words:
“Love and appreciation” “Thank you very much”
These pictures were the results of bad words:
“You disgust me, I am going to kill you!” “Ugly!”
These are the results of just plain nice words; can you imagine the impact a bracha with the mention of Hashem’s holy name and deep feelings of gratitude to Him will have?
Understanding the Mishkan this way, reveals a deep insight into the connection between the Mishkan and Shabbat.
The Torah tells us (Leviticus 19:30):
ל) אֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ וּמִקְדָּשִׁי תִּירָאוּ אֲנִי יְדֹוָד
30) Keep My Sabbath, and fear My Holy Temple, I am Hashem.
The Sages wonder about the juxtaposition of the Shabbat to the Holy Temple. What does keeping the Shabbat have to do with the Holy Temple? Why are these two seemingly unrelated topics placed in the same verse?
ואע”פ שאני מזהירכם על המקדש את שבתותי תשמורו. אין בנין בית המקדש דוחה שבת:
Although I have warned you about the sanctity of the Holy Temple’s importance, nevertheless, keep my Shabbat. This teaches us that the construction of the Holy Temple does not override the Shabbat, and you may not construct it on Shabbat.
This can be understood on a deeper level. In the Torah, Hashem warned us to keep the Shabbat twelve times. Keeping the Shabbat means that we must refrain from doing מלאכה” – forbidden acts.” (I am deliberately not translating that word to mean work. See below for its true understanding.) But the Torah doesn’t spell out for us which acts are forbidden and constitute a violation of the Shabbat. There is just one verse (Exodus 35:3), which clearly states a prohibited act, “Do not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.” But there are 39 different categories of forbidden acts on Shabbat. Where are the other 38 from?
They are derived from the verse quoted above. Fear my Sanctuary, and keep My Shabbat. The way you keep my Shabbat is by refraining from doing the constructive actions you employed in constructing the Mishkan.
Analyzing the Mishkan’s construction, the Sages broke it down to its basic categories of creative activity. For example, the curtains were made of wool and woven on a loom. This required 8 of the 39 categories of creative work.
1. Shearing the wool
2. Cleansing it
3. Combing it
4. Dying it
5. Twining it into threads
6&7. Setting up the loom
8. Weaving the curtain
This is how all 39 categories of forbidden activity were derived.
On Shabbat, Hashem finished creating, and as such, we must also cease and desist from our creative activities. Therefore, only constructive, creative activity is forbidden on Shabbat. If needed for Shabbat, moving heavy furniture is not forbidden, even though it is difficult and tiring.
Understanding that building the Mishkan created a space for Hashem’s Shechina to dwell, we realize that it was a creation of the greatest possible magnitude. Material objects were assembled in a way that they became holy. It was a creation of something, a holy space, from nothing, materials devoid of holiness. This is why the Mishkan is the source for what is considered constructive activity on Shabbat.
There is yet another layer of depth. Rabbi Yitzchak Issac Chaver (Student of the Vilna Gaon) writes.
ספר ביאורי אגדות (אפיקי ים) – שבת דף קד ע”א
וז”ס המשכן שבו הי’ נכלל כל הבריאה שלכן נסמכה פ’ שבת למלאכת המשכן שהם הל”ט אבות מלאכות שהי’ במשכן, שהם עצמם שהיו בו’ ימי בראשית ששבת מהם בשבת
This is the secret of the Mishkan; it included the entire creation. This is why Shabbat was put next to the building of the Mishkan, because those 39 categories of creative actions that were necessary for the Mishkan’s construction are the very same actions that Hashem used during the six days of creation from which Hashem rested on Shabbat.
When we keep the Shabbat and refrain from doing any of the 39 categories of forbidden actions, we are mirroring what Hashem did when He rested from creating anything new on the Shabbat. Indeed, we are actually refraining from the very same actions that Hashem refrained from when He, so to speak, rested on Shabbat.
The book of Exodus ends with this verse (40:38)
(לח) כִּי עֲנַן יְדֹוָד עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן יוֹמָם וְאֵשׁ תִּהְיֶה לַיְלָה בּוֹ לְעֵינֵי כָל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל מַסְעֵיהֶם
38) For the cloud of Hashem would be on the Mishkan by day, and fire would be on it at night, before the eyes of all of the House of Israel throughout their journeys.
Nachmanides (Genesis 49:33) explains that with Hashem’s Shechina resting on the Mishkan, the Jewish exodus from Egypt was complete. With this, Hashem once again dwelled among man, the Jewish nation.
וכשבאו אל הר סיני ועשו המשכן ושב הקדוש ברוך הוא והשרה שכינתו ביניהם אז שבו אל מעלת אבותם, שהיה סוד אלוה עלי אהליהם, והם הם המרכבה (ב”ר מז ח), ואז נחשבו גאולים ולכן נשלם הספר הזה בהשלימו ענין המשכן ובהיות כבוד ה’ מלא אותו תמיד
And when the Jewish people came to Mount Sinai, and built the Mishkan, and Hashem restored His Shechina to them, then, they returned to the state of their Forefathers who served as a resting place for Hashem’s Shechina. With this, the Jewish nation was considered fully redeemed and therefore this book ends with Hashem’s Shechina always dwelling in the Mishkan.
Hashem wishes His Shechina to dwell among man. Our mission in life is to create ourselves into a vessel to accept the Shechina. We accomplish this by using the material world around us to fulfill Hashem’s Torah and mitzvot. These deeds sanctify us and the world, adding another step to preparing the world for the coming of the Mashiach, may he come speedily in our times.
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extremely deep and inspiring