Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Building the Mishkan can be compared to constructing a spaceship.”

“The Book of Exodus describes the construction of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) not once, but four times, specifying precise measurements and minute details.

Why is so much space devoted to the physical attributes of the Mishkan and its vessels, when their purpose is, fundamentally, spiritual?

The function of the Mishkan was to enhance the relationship between God and His people, Israel – to serve as a medium of communication that could bridge the vast, immeasurable distance between the finite and the infinite.

Building the Mishkan can be compared to constructing a spaceship.

Space travel requires vehicles that can journey to distant, extraterrestrial places, but these voyages – no matter how long they are – are ultimately circumscribed by finite, physical parameters.

The Mishkan, on the other hand, faced an even greater challenge: transcending the vast distance, and differences, between an infinite God and a finite humanity.

In order to build a spacecraft, one must develop a design, gather raw materials and fashion each component.

Every part must be checked and double-checked, to assure that it meets the exacting specifications.

All the pieces are then joined together into a cohesive unit.

Finally, each part must be rechecked, each subsystem must be tested, and the whole structure must be reassembled. The Mishkan, too, was assembled, deconstructed and then constructed anew, to verify that each part perfectly complemented the others.

And after the completion of these exhaustive procedures, both the spacecraft and the Mishkan needed the same critical element in order to realize their potential: human involvement, both inside and out.

The spacecraft is guided – by engineers on the ground and by astronauts on board – as it breaches the atmosphere to join the stars in the heavens.

From before liftoff, throughout its mission, and until it returns, it is closely watched by the nation and the world – united in wonder when things go well, bound together in grief when they do not.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From “A Bridge to the Infinite – Parshat Vayakhel” by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in the Jerusalem Report