▪ Kedusha of the Camp, The Mishkan and Achdus Yisrael (Jewish Unity)
Traveling in the Wilderness: Then and Now
traveling in the desert with the aron hakadosh
In Parshat Bamidbar and Parshat Naso we learn in fairly great detail about the camp of Israel and the manner in which we travelled in the Sinai Wilderness. The Mishkan was built and taken apart and rebuilt many times, until we reached our destination in Yerushalayim and the building of the Beit HaMikdash, a few hundred years later.
The journey was long, and often very difficult, both physically and spiritually.
moving… building… taking apart… transporting…
reconstructing… camping… deconstructing…
travelling… rebuild again… encamping…
receiving… resting… meditating…
daavening… learning… loving…
children… family… friends…
Hashem… ascending… descending…
inspiration… application… time to move… again…
Holy of Holies
washing… preparing… cooking… baking…
Shabbos kodesh… coming…
here… again… moving…
toward… ‘yom shekulo Shabbos’…
eternal… never ending…
Shabbos Kodesh… holy Shabbos
To reach our destination we have to move, we have to build, undo and reconstruct many times through life, with freshness and joy. We have to know and never lose sight of our destination. The journey winds through dangerous and sometimes circuitous territory. We must never despair. As much as we want to get there, Hashem wants it even more. He hides only so that we should find Him! Never stop looking! Never stop yearning! Never stop dancing! Never stop loving! Never stop learning and daavening!
Centered in our Mishkan within, our essence point, connected with all our brothers and sisters, with our children and families, with our neighbors and friends, with our tribes and people, with Torah and prayer, with loving kindness; ready to be the highest, ready to sweep the floor, ready to learn the deepest Torah, ready to just carry the boards – we know our destination, and b’ezrat Hashem, will be there soon together with Moshiach in the ultimate, beautiful and holiest, never to be destroyed Beit Hamikdash.
Travelling spiritually… first you arrive then you move away
- Reb Shlomo זצ"ל
And you know friends today is Rosh Chodesh Sivan. In the first passage (Shmos – Exodus 19.) it says "bayom hazaeh bo'u midbar Sinai" - today they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. In the second passage it says "va'yissu mey'Refidim va'ya'vo'u midbar Sinai." - they traveled from Refidim and they came to the wilderness of Sinai."
And the commentaries say - first you (are supposed to) say 'they moved away' and then you say 'they arrived' - and here it says first they arrived and then they moved away?
And the answer is very simple. Physically, first you move away and then you arrive. But spiritually, when (do) you move away from the old place - when you (have) found the real place. Then you have the strength to move away from the old place. First you arrive and then you move away.
So 'chosson and kallah' I want to bless you all of us with all those holy places that will give you strength to move away – (to) move higher and higher and higher, and deeper and stronger.”
The Crown of Nezirut
Shimshon HaGibor (Samson) was a Nazir from birth
(The following lesson is based on the Sfas Emes parshat Naso 5671. I pray that I am giving it over correctly.)
“When either man or woman shall clearly utter a vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to consecrate himself unto the LORD” [Bamidbar 6:2]
The meaning of being a נ ז י ר – ‘nazir’ is to be separated from worldly- materialistic matters. Though the nazarite is like all humans, involved with and does interact with worldly matters, the concept of being a ‘nazir’ is that the human being has the power to bond himself to the root of everything- to the innermost life essence. That is called פלא – ‘peleh’ – that is a ‘wonder’ – something out of the the ordinary.
Hashem is the Master of ‘wonders’. To actually set oneself apart from the mundane, to rise higher, to connect to the deepest depth of life, to bond with the Divine life energy that is present in all creations, is a ‘wonder’ – פלא.
We thank Hashem many times a day (in the ‘asher yatzar’ blessing) for the great wonder of His grafting our spiritual souls to our physical bodies- we thank Hashem for this ‘wonder’ – פלא of attaching the spiritual with the physical and maintaining the soul there.
The great wonder that man can do!
It is a great wonder that man can rise from being submerged in the mundane and ascend to live with a higher consciousness. That is the ‘wonder’ – פלא that man can achieve, and that is the idea of being a nazir.
The root word נזר – nezer, has many usages, all of which share the same underlying concept and meaning- namely, something that is beyond the norm; ‘zar’ means foreign, ‘muzar’ means strange, and נזר – ‘nezer’ means a crown. The nazir is not allowed to cut his hair, for it is the “crown of his G-d upon his head.” The High Priest would wear a נזר קודש – holy crown upon his hat. In the infinitive, להזיר – ‘lehazir’, is to set apart.
The idea of living with a higher consciousness applies to every one of us. We have to live and do and be involved with mundane worldly realities, though at the same time we must connect with the deeper holy life essence that is embedded within. What sets the nazir apart in particular is that by taking the vow to be a nazir, he accepts upon himself additional stringent rules. He or she may not drink any wine, eat any grapes nor partake of anything from the vine. Nor may the Nazir become 'tamei' through any contact with a dead person. The Nazir is also prohibited from cutting his/her hair of the head.
Now we can better understand the unusual opening phrase כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדּר נֶדֶר . In Bamidbar chapter 30 we learn the laws of vows. There Torah says simply, איש כי ידור נדר – “when a man takes a vow”, and the word יפליא – yafli, does not appear. The word יפליא has the word פלא within it. The implication in כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדּר נֶדֶר is that when a man or woman takes the vow to be a nazir, they are doing something that is a פלא – a ‘wonder’ - a wonderous phenomenon.
Hashem is constantly doing the wonder of grafting the spiritual soul onto the physical body, and keeping it there. In the evening Maariv prayer, we say “He does great things beyond limit, and wonders beyond number.” (Job 9:10)
What is the פלא of this nazir relationship with Hashem? The Sfas Emes now brings us a Midrash to explain what living with Hashem in nazir consciousness is about.
The Midrash relates our opening verse אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַפְלִא לִנְדּר נֶדֶר with the verse in Song of Songs (5:15) “שׁוֹקָיו עַמּוּדֵי שֵׁשׁ, מְיֻסָּדִים עַל-אַדְנֵי-פָז - His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold;” The Midrash says that שׁוֹקָיו – His legs refers to this world that the Holy One blessed is He, yearned to create. As it says “His yearning is upon me.” The word שׁוֹקָיו – His legs, relates with the word להשתוקק – to yearn; (the thighs are sensuous and arouse yearning). From where do we know that Hashem yearns for the world? For it says: וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ – “And the heaven and the earth were completed.” The word וַיְכֻלּוּ – va’yechulu, expresses desire, the desire for ultimate union. The ‘pillars of marble’ שש – refer to this world that was created in six שש days. It is founded on golden sockets- these are חכמה, בינה, דעת – wisdom, understanding and conscious living.
The Sfas Emes explains that these sockets of fine gold, are: חכמה – wisdom, that is fear and awe of Hashem : בינה – understanding the need to ‘turn away from evil’ and דעת – conscious recognition and awareness of your Creator, that the person can bond with the innermost Divine life essence of the world that Hashem created.
Hashem yearns for the yearning of the created beings. They yearn for Him because they have been distanced from Him when He sent them to live in this world. Though they are so far away, וַיְכֻלּוּ when the holy Shabbos arrives, everything is raised and all creations recognize their roots, and there arises a strong desire and intense yearning to be absorbed and nullified in Him, b”H.
That is why the Midrash relates that שׁוֹקָי “His legs”, and refer to this world, for He yearns for us to yearn for Him. Our yearning comes about because of the great distance and gap that we experience in this lowest of all worlds. This is the meaning of “His yearning is upon me.”
It is true that the workings and events of this world cause further distancing and concealment of the inner Divine energy. But with חכמה – כח מה – the strength of ‘what’, the power of asking the question, “WHAT?” what is going on? what am I doing here? what is this all about, we nullify our selves to Him as we realize that we really cannot grasp the power of His might and greatness baruch Hu. With this realization great fear and awe come over the person and all he does. His egocentricity is nullified as he discovers his true desire and will, to nullify himself to knowing Hashem and to doing His Will.
With בינה – understanding, he draws the intellectual חכמה and binds it to his body, so that every one of his limbs is permeated with the awe and fear of Hashem, such that they now ‘naturally’ turn away from evil, and they distance themselves from transgression.
With דעת – conscious recognition and bonding with your Creator, the חכמה and בינה are drawn to permeate every act and measure of man, with the conscious recognition of Hashem. This is as it says in Proverbs (3:6), “Know Him in all your ways!” To know Him is to bond with Him. And it also says in Proverbs (24:4), “And by knowledge are the chambers filled with all precious and pleasant riches,” – with דעת even the most concealed and deepest recesses of your being and deeds are filled and bonded with the innermost Divine life energy. This is as the Rabbis said, that to recognize your Creator is to bond with the innermost life energy of the Creator, that is concealed within all His creations.
Therefore on the holy Shabbos which is given to us as a gift, we are told “Verily ye shall keep My Sabbaths, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, so that we may know that -לָדַעַת כִּי אֲנִי ה' מְקַדִּשְׁכֶם “it is I Hashem who sanctifies you.” For on Shabbos all the creations are nullified to Him – that is the climax of the desire and yearning – ויְכֻלּוּ - ‘va’yechulu’.
The lesson that this Midrash wishes to teach us is how we can separate ourselves from our attachments to the physical and worldly pleasures, so that we can bond with the ‘supernal root’ even as we live in this world. We can achieve this with our will and yearning to bond with the highest and deepest Divine life energy that is drawn from the highest of the high, from beyond the beyond.
At a shiur with Reb Leibush we learned a very deep explanation as to why we are truly inspired when we pray with a sincere ‘baal tfillah’- master of prayer. The ‘baal tfillah’ is praying from the depths of his heart, from the lowest depths of his being, deeply aware that we are so far from Hashem and that without Hashem’s help we would be utterly lost. This arouses his passionate yearning to be close to Hashem. And this yearning arouses Hashem to share His yearning for us. Sensing this we are inspired to come closer to Him.
Birkat Kohanim 2
"Birkat Kohanim" – The Priestly Blessings[*]
In this parsha we learn that Hashem gave Aharon and his sons the mitzvah of blessing the children of Israel, with the three priestly blessings – known in Hebrew as "Birkat Kohanim":
And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying. Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying.
In this way* you shall bless the children of Yisrael, saying to them:
"Hashem shall bless you and protect you.
Hashem shall shine His face to you and give you grace.
Hashem will raise up His Face to you and will give you Shalom-peace."
And they shall put My Name upon the children of Yisrael, and I will bless them. [Bamidbar 6:22-27]
The Rabbis explain that the first blessing is for material wealth and protection. Rashi explains that while a human king can give you wealth, he cannot protect you from losing it. However Hashem can both give it to you and protect you from losing it.
The second blessing, "Hashem shall shine His face to you," is to receive the light of the Torah. Rashi understands this to mean that Hashem will show you a friendly and glowing face. This is a special blessing. Feeling the closeness and the love of Hashem is a very special gift. We can arouse this awareness by meditating on Hashem's love for us, but it is an extra measure of love when Hashem is revealing it to you. The closer we are and feel to Hashem, the more we celebrate our Judaism, the more we can experience Hashem's blessings in our lives.
Reb Shlomo zt"l taught; what does it mean that 'Hashem will give you grace'? One can learn Torah and know lots of Torah, but it is a special blessing to be able to give over Torah in a way that is beautiful. One needs to pray for that, and one needs to really have 'ahavat Yisrael' to learn and teach Torah in a graceful way: Torah learning that restores the soul.
The third blessing, "Hashem will raise-up His Face to you and will give you Shalom (peace)," is very special. What happens to us after we have transgressed is often more dangerous than the transgression itself. We begin to think that it's all over, that all our spiritual struggles were for naught, that we'll never be able to change. In this blessing we are blessed to know that when we make a mistake, Hashem is waiting and wanting to forgive us and is even promising us that He will restore us to being -Shalom- whole again.
Shalom, explains the Alter Rebbe, also means connected. The root of Shalom is SHALEYM which means whole and complete. When we pray for or bless one another with SHALOM we mean much more than not fighting and competing. We mean that we should be connected and that we should each feel whole and complete by being connected. To be blessed with SHALOM, is to be complete and whole in thought, speech and action. To be blessed with SHALOM, is to attain harmony, whereby our 'animal soul' willingly joins and contributes its energies, along with our 'divine soul' in serving Hashem.
Reb Shlomo's teaching on Birkat Kohanim
Transcribed by Sholom on 14 Sivan 5769
In this week's parsha, Naso, we learn that Hashem commanded the Kohanim to bless the Children of Israel with three blessings that have come to be known as "birchat Kohanim" – the Priestly blessings. The following teaching by Reb Shlomo explores the depths of these blessings. Apparently he was basing the lesson on the teachings of the Ishbitzer Rebbe. I do not know when this lesson was given and the recording is not of excellent quality; so here and there I could not make out Reb Shlomo's exact words [indicated by ~ ~ ~ ] - nevertheless I tried to be as faithful to the original as possible. This transcript is not to be used for commercial distribution without permission from the family.
I want to share with you [a teaching] from one of the greatest Rabbis in the world
Yevorchecha Hashem – Hashem should bless you
"breicha" means a pool – a big pool
what is the problem with most people
the inside of our heart is so closed
the inside of the inside is so closed
my 'pool' is not open for blessings
my pool is not open for what G-d wants to give me
to receive what G-d wants to give me
ok let's take a mother and children a father and children
sure I want to give my children a peanut butter sandwich
and I want them to have a good time
but there is something
I want to give them so deep into their heart
but this can only be received by the deepest deepest depth of their heart
if G-d forbid, if this deepest depth, if this pool is closed
there is nothing I can do
So this is so beautiful
G-d wants to give us so much light
but that light can only fit into the deepest deepest pool of the heart
into the deepest deepest depth
this is so beautiful
the priests are blessing Israel
the first thing is that G-d should open your pool [to receive His gift]
the next part of the blessing is
"v'yishmerecha" - and He should guard you ~ ~ ~
[it's a blessing that a door should be open
but sometimes it also has to be closed]
like a pool it needs to be opened to receive
and it needs to be closed not to lose it
~ ~ ~
sometimes we have such a high moment
such as Yom Kippur
every Jew on Yom Kippur is mammash an angel … right?
we're reaching the highest levels
it's a gift from heaven
but what happens the next day? what happens then?
like a swimming pool if you don't close it the water runs right out
so the priests are blessing us
'yevorechecha' – G-d should open that inside pool
the deepest pool of your heart
'v'yishmerecha' – and He should bless you
that you should know the truth
that you got it
~ ~ ~
you know … imagine I walk down the street
and I hear this Rabbi say "G-d loves you"
mammash sweet and it touches me
and the next day I don't remember it
you know why?
because it was not a message just for me
yeh I know G-d loves everyone
you know when I keep something very deep?
when it's just for me
~ ~ ~
so [the Ishbitzer says] what's the greatest blessing in the world
that you should have a taste that it's just for you
~ ~ ~ that you have a private connection [with Hashem]
even as a Jew you can keep all the laws in the world
you can be a good man a good woman
if it's not just private
if it's not this private deepest deepest connection to G-d
it won't last
you know I can keep Shabbos all my life
but it's not my Shabbos
you know [says "v'shamru b'naui Yisrael es haShabbos} l'doiroisom"
you have to keep Shabbos in "your house"
it has to be your Shabbos
his Shabbos [~ ~ ~ if you are keeping someone else's Shabbos, it] wont last
[it has to be] my daavening my pair of Tefillin my Tzitzis right ~ ~ ~
then it says that "G-d should shine His face upon you" ~ ~ ~
listen to what the Ishbitzer says it's so beautiful
listen to me [when I give a gift to a woman I love]
I watch her while I'm giving her the gift
if she looks at the gift while I'm giving her the gift
maybe she likes me [but]
she doesn't really love me
if she really loves me she doesn't look at the gift
she looks at my face
the gift is just a sign that I love you
you know 'where' am I giving her the gift
with my eyes with my face
so the second blessing is
the priests say it's not enough that you receive G-d's blessing
I want you to have the privilege to receive the shine of G-d's face
don't look at the gift
look at the face of G-d
Ya'eir Hashem panav eilecha
G-d should shine his face upon you
you know how deep this is … gevalt it is so deep
you know I can study the Bible and look at the words
which is beautiful right?
but while I'm looking at the words I can mammash see
G-d's face shining into me
different word different learning different Shabbos
and then "vee'chuneka" – He should give you grace
friends I don't know what you think grace is
but forget what you know [or] what I know
let me tell you what the Ishbitzer says
grace is that … what you would say 'a person has "chein" right?
you know what "chein" means
that this person asks you for a favor and you have to do it
[but] you don't know why you're doing it
there is something about this person
not that they're so beautiful not that they're so perfect
sometimes there are people
they may not be so handsome they may not be so clever
they have something …. right?
you just want it
you want to do anything for them
you know what that means
in heaven sometimes G-d can judge me if I deserve it or not
but even with G-d the priests bless me you should have "chein" by G-d
you should have something in your soul which is so precious
that He'll do it for you
I don't ask if you deserve it
now listen to how deep this is
you know I can give my child a gift-
'you were so good last week I'm giving you a gift'
how does it sound to you – sweet
but then suddenly my child thinks
I'm giving them a gift because they deserve it
but a gift is not [because of] 'deserving'
a gift means 'I don't know if you deserve it'- it's so much deeper
my connection to you is not because you deserve it
my connection with you is because I'm so deeply connected with you
that there's nothing in the world I wouldn't give you
the second blessing is that I should have the privilege of seeing G-d's face
and I should have the deepest privilege of realizing
that G-d doesn't give me anything [just] because I deserve it
I hope I deserve it a little bit but that's not why G-d gives it to me
G-d gives me everything just because
because of "chein" – unbelievable depth
unbelievable just "I love you so much"
then comes the third blessing
"Yisa Hashem panav eilecha - G-d should lift His face to you
v'ya'seim lecha shalom"_ He should give you peace
this is mammash awesome-
you know what I would like … when G-d gives me a gift
G-d is up there and I'm down here- right? it's awkward
the priest says G-d should lift you up so high for ~ ~ ~
you know imagine I have a little boy, a little girl
I could stand up six foot four and they are just so tiny
and I just stand up there and I give it to them
or I could just sit down on the floor
and be on the same level as them and give it to them
it's so much deeper … right?
so please G-d for that one second when You give me a gift
please [can] You and I be on the same level?
just so close to each other right?
~ ~ ~ the biggest boundary is [between finite and infinite]
… we are just human beings and G-d is G-d
but the priest blesses me – for one second let's just be one
'Yisa Hashem panav" G-d should lift me up for one second
we should be on the same level
(according to this interpretation the reading of the words is
"yisa Hashem'- Hashem should lift you,
so that "panav eilecha"- His face should face you)
now listen to me
"v'yaseim lecha Shalom" – G-d should give you peace
this is the deepest depth
you know if I make peace with somebody – husband and wife
especially with people who argue
you think you can bring peace by arguing?
you know what you have to do?
you have to lift yourself up to a high level
lift yourself out of this hole
you cannot go into the same place
where you were fighting and make peace
it has to be in a different place a different space
so it says "v'yaseim lecha Shalom" –
He should give you the privilege of bringing peace to the world
that means whomever you meet
for that moment lift them up to a high level
… you know people love you the most
when you just lift them up a little
even one inch two inches …
you see there will never be peace in the world
unless they lift up the world to a different space
an argument which brings war cannot bring peace
… now he says the deepest depths
you know peace comes from such a high place in heaven
comes from such a high place in heaven
that your vessels really have to be pure for that
mammash your vessels have to be absolutely fixed
"v'yaseim lecha Shalom" – G-d should fix your vessels
that the great great blessing of peace
should be able to find vessels in your heart
Kedusha of the Camp, The Mishkan and Achdus Yisrael (Jewish Unity)
Mishkan in the midst
"And Your Camp Shall Be Holy" (Devarim 23:15)
In Parshas Bamidbar we started learning about the Camp of the Children of Israel. These teachings are concluded in this week's parsha, Naso, with the following commandment:
"Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying; Command Bnei Yisroel that they must expel from the camp anyone with tzora'as, and anyone from whom flows a seminal discharge and anyone who became defiled by a [departed] soul. Whether male or female you shall send them out. Beyond the camp you shall send them, and they shall not defile their camps in which I dwell among them. Bnei Yisroel did so, and they sent them beyond the camp; just as Hashem spoke to Moshe, so did Bnei Yisroel do."
The holy Shla"h brings a teaching from the holy Zohar that the verse "And your camp shall be holy," (Devarim 23:15) also refers to the 248 limbs of the human body. The Shla"h explains that we find an allusion to this in our parsha, where we learn that there were three designated areas in the camp of the Jewish people, and these correspond to different parts of our bodies – our personal physical sanctuaries.
'Machaneh Shechinah' (the dwelling place of the Shechinah) is the area within the curtains that surround the Mishkan, this is the actual domain of the holy Sanctuary.
'Machaneh Leviah' (the dwelling place of the Levites) is the area surrounding the Mishkan, where the Levites camped.
'Machaneh Yisrael' is the dwelling areas of the tribes of Israel, outside the perimeter of the Levites camp.
The greater the sanctity of the camp the less tolerant it was of 'tumah'. Anyone who was 'tamei' could not enter the 'machaneh Shechinah' (the dwelling place of the Shechinah) until he became 'tahor' again. The 'zav' whose 'tumah' was more intense, could not enter 'machaneh Leviah' either, and the 'metzorah' had to remain outside 'machaneh Yisrael' as well. For further explanation of the concepts of tumah and tahara please see the addendum at the end of this section.
The Shla"h relates the mitzvah of maintaining holiness in the three camps, to maintaining holiness in the three camps or domains of our personal 'sanctuaries', i.e., the mind, the heart, the stomach and its affiliate organs.
The mind and intellect correspond to the 'machaneh Shechinah' (the dwelling place of the Shechinah). The Talmud teaches that thoughts of transgressions are 'harder' (more difficult to deal with and also more difficult to rectify) than actual transgressions. To maintain holiness in the mind, we must guard it even from thoughts of transgressions.
Next in order of sensitivity is the heart, which corresponds to 'Machaneh Leviah'. The heart must be protected from anything that will disturb it from being a 'pure heart and a kind heart'.
The holiness of the stomach and its affiliates correspond to 'Machaneh Yisrael' and must also be guarded. Though this domain is not as sensitive as the heart and the mind, these organs must also be protected from spiritual impurity since they can block the heart and dumb the mind. The Talmud teaches us that non-kosher food "blocks the heart". Misplaced and uncontrolled sexual urges can shut the mind down.
Kedusha (holiness) and 'tumah' don't mix. As we have learned in the past it is very difficult for us to comprehend these concepts since none of has experienced being 'tahor' ever since the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. Nevertheless, we can relate to it somewhat. 'Tumah' reduces and blocks our sensitivity to 'kedusha', and as the Ishbitzer Rebbe had explained in parshat Emor, some forms of 'tumah' make it very difficult for us to be close with Hashem in a loving way.
▪ 'Tummah' is usually translated as ritual impurity, and 'tahara' is translated as ritual purity. It is most important to bear in mind that these terms cannot be translated accurately. The inherent implications in the usage of the words, pure and impure, are misleading. One can become 'tamei' even by doing a great Mitzvah! For example, attending a funeral and attending to the needs of the deceased-- 'halvayat ha'meit' is a very great mitzvah; nevertheless one becomes 'tamei' by doing it. Being 'tamei' means that you cannot enter the Beit Hamikdash to offer a sacrifice, until you become 'tahor'. The Ishbitzer Rebbe in his sefer 'Mei Hashiloach' explains that in a state of 'tummah', there is some spiritual fixing that needs to take place, either between yourself and G-d, or between yourself and your Self, or between yourself and others.]
The Torah and The Mishkan
We have learned that in order to receive the Torah we had to attain the unity of being, 'like one person with one heart'. We find the call for unity in our parsha as well. All of Israel, Kohanim, Levi'im and the Yisraelim, men and women from each tribe, took part in the making of the Mishkan.
At the end of the Parsha, we learn:
"It came to pass, on the day Moshe finished erecting the Mishkon, and he anointed it and consecrated it and all of its utensils, and the Altar and all its utensils, and he anointed them and consecrated them." (Bamidbar 7:1)
"The day Moshe finished erecting the Mishkon" was on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Over the next twelve days the Altar was dedicated by the princes of each of the tribes.
Concerning the Mishkan we have learned that if even one little peg was missing, the Shechinah would not dwell in it. Just like a sefer Torah that is not complete and perfect, cannot be used for public Torah reading, because on a certain level that means that there is a Jewish soul which is not represented in it, likewise, each part of the Mishkan, down to the last peg, represents the souls of the Jewish people, and the Shechinah dwells among us only when all the souls of Knesset Yisrael, the community of Israel, are all present.
We have also learned that each individual is meant to be a personal sanctuary for the presence of Hashem. To do this we need to have and maintain the integrity and fidelity of our sanctuaries. When something goes wrong we need to do the necessary 'tikkun' fixing work. And so we find a number of instructive teachings related to this in our parsha.
Confession - Viduy Dvarim
The mitzvah of verbal confession, known as 'viduy' is presented in this parsha.
"Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying; Speak to Bnei Yisroel: When a man or a woman commits any of the sins against man, acting treacherously against Hashem, and that person is guilty. They shall CONFESS the sins which they committed and return the principal amount [of the object] of his guilt, and add one fifth to that amount. He shall then give it to whom he is indebted." [Bamidbar 5:5-7]
Doing 'tshuvah' (repenting) involves four steps, as is explained in the Rambam: one must stop doing that which is wrong, regret the past, commit not to do it again, make appropriate amends, and make a verbal confession - Viduy dvarim.
It is interesting that the Torah teaches us this mitzvah of Viduy (verbal confession) and expression of regret, particularly in the context of 'gezel' (the sin of robbing) even though viduy is required for all transgressions?
The Chidushei Hari"m answers as follows: all the powers and talents which Hashem has given to us, have been given to us for the purpose of serving Hashem. Imagine you lend me your car to deliver some food to a needy family and instead I drive away on a three-day vacation. Not only did I not do what I was supposed to with the car, I also stole the car. If I use my intelligence, which is a gift from Hashem, to deceive or rob, or to gain personal honor, or if I use my verbal skills to cause hurt or shame, for example, then not only am I committing a particular transgression, I am also stealing from the gifts and talents which Hashem has given/loaned me.
We also learn in our parsha about the Sotah, the married woman who is suspected by her husband of committing adultery. She may have or she may not have done so. Her husband had warned her 'do not seclude yourself with so and so', but she secretly did hide from her husband, with this other man. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that this Torah portion is also a metaphor about our relationship with Hashem, which is likened to a marriage. Similar to the jealous husband Hashem has warned us not to have any other gods. But how can we possibly hide from Hashem, after all there is no place which is void of G-d? Regardless of where you may try to hide, you are always in the presence of Hashem!
The Rebbe explains: in the Talmud (Sotah 5a) it says concerning the boastful and haughty person, "I and he, cannot live in the same place." The boastful person is so to speak 'hiding' from Hashem, for Hashem chooses not to see him.
How then is the relationship restored? The Rebbe explains that if the letters of the Torah are engraved in this person's heart, then his hiding is merely an external matter, and the relationship can be repaired easily. However if the words of the Torah are not engraved in the heart, if this person and the Torah are not one, i.e. his haughtiness is running deep, then he is quite hidden and distant from Hashem. However even such a person can do a 'tikkun' (fixing), by means of complete nullification of the separate self, before Hashem. By doing this 'tikkun', we attain an even higher spiritual level than we had been on before.