God created the Universe in only thirty-one verses of Genesis. The Tabernacle, however, that we are presently reading about, has over four hundred verses devoted to its design and setup. Time, space and matter are created and shaped into our grandiose Universe in thirty-one verses. A tent in the desert requires over four hundred?!
I believe there is a profound insight here.
God created human beings to be partners with him in his world. Lions, starfish, trees, volcanoes, planets, stars, constellations and galaxies are merely bystanders. They do their thing and then they are gone. But they make no active and lasting contribution. They have no ability to improve our Universe. They are just props that set the stage for the real stars of the show – you and me.
God created his world far from perfect. As we all see and know. He did that on purpose. To give us the opportunity to partner with him in his grand scheme. And how lucky is that for us? Imagine Warren Buffet calling you up one day saying he’d like to invite you become a senior partner in Berkshire Hathaway. Well, this is the Infinite Creator of the Universe appointing us as senior partners in his one great venture.
And the division of labour is as follows. He does the heavy lifting. Creating lion cubs and feeding zebras to them; Exploding stars in supernovae or imploding them into black holes; providing oxygen to breathe and water to drink…. Those are the minor details that he organises. So, what’s our job? Our job is to make his world into a good and Godly place; to perfect it. And each of us is given our chance to play his or her role….. King Hezekiah, 2500 years ago, destroyed a bronze idol that the Jewish People had been worshipping for centuries. The Rabbis ask why none of the earlier righteous kings destroyed it themselves. They say that God does not allow any one individual or generation to solve all the world’s problems – in order that everyone can get their chance to contribute. Us too!
The Tabernacle, the portable Temple in the desert, represented human beings contributing to our world. ‘Make for me a Tabernacle,’ said God last week, ‘so that I may dwell among you’. It represents the idea of bringing Godliness into the world. Values, morals, goodness, kindness, love, joy, wisdom – the list goes on… our role is to increase, develop and share all of these with others. The Tabernacle was a place where God’s presence dwelled – and amid the turbulent distractions of the personal ego, one could remember what being human is all about. About giving, about sharing, about loving. And perhaps most profoundly of all – simply about ‘being’. About allowing ourselves to be the Godly souls that reside at the core of each and every one of us.
Whilst God can create a universe in thirty-one verses, we human beings take considerably longer to perfect it. The ‘Tabernacle’ that we are to turn our world into requires hundreds of verses because it is a more complex task. And it’s spread over millennia – to give us all a part to play.
Parsha in a Nutshell
This week’s portion is about the clothes of the Priests who worked in the Tabernacle and subsequently the Temple. Like last week, it’s quite intricate details and not for the fainthearted, so it’s not a great week to come to Synagogue if you haven’t been in a while. Next week will be much more interesting.