Rabbi Yaacov Haber
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The book of Shmos tells the story of the Jewish people. In this forty-year story, we grew from humble beginnings as slaves in Egypt to a Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation. The story culminates with the building of the Mishkan. It’s not that we needed a building to carry around in the desert. We needed a project that would bring all the tribes of Israel together. Everyone brought something to the table. Some brought wealth, some brought engineering ability, some brought weaving and other forms of artistry, some brought physical strength and others brought organizational skills. We would contribute our best and work together. This 150 foot by 75 foot concerted effort took us from individuals to a cohesive nation. The presence of Hashem rested upon us as a nation.
In our Parsha we are taught that when men and women brought their contributions for the building of the Mishkan, there was enough money for the building, “V’husar” and there was extra. The Zohar explains that it wasn’t just money that people gave, they gave their heart and soul to the Mishkan project. All the money came with spiritual energy. There was leftover money and leftover energy. The extra spiritual energy stayed in the world and was put toward the building of the two Temples in Jerusalem and every synagogue that would ever be created during thousands of years of Galus.
The Zohar explains that when G-d created the world He took a bit of earth from the place that would become Jerusalem and He spread it all around the world. Everywhere the earth was placed became the future site of a Synagogue. Bilaam recognized this and said, “Who can count the dust of Yaakov?” (Parshas Balak) Bilaam is saying: “Yerushalayim is all over the world. What power can I possibly have over it?”
During the time of the final redemption, all that earth, with the synagogue that was built on it, will be returned by G-d to Eretz Yisroel.
When we stand in Shul, we are standing in Yerushalayim. We, here, are the nerve endings of Yerushalayim. We can feel the pain of Yerushalayim and we share in their simcha. The energy that constantly goes in to the building and upkeep of the synagogue, is the spillover of energy that was donated to the Mishkan. The energy of unity, generosity and freshness of spirit was used for the Mishkan and then trickled down through the generations right here to our synagogue.
A synagogue is more than a minyan. It is more than a gathering place. It is more than a rabbi that can inspire with words of Torah and it is more than a beautiful chazan. A synagogue is community effort to house the Shechina.
When our people first came to Israel we used bamos. They were little family shuls and bamos on the block shuls. Wealthy families had their own private bama. Wealthy cities in the Negev would boast about the two or three hundred bamos their community displayed. There were boutique bamos, early bamos, late bamos, talking bamos and quiet bamos. It was probably very comfortable and convenient. But, when the Bais HaMikdash was built in Yerushalayim bamos became outlawed. In order to host the Shechina we had to work together. Yom Tov would come and all of Israel would prepare to travel to Jerusalem to recharge their souls and reunite with the Creator. Imagine someone saying to his wife, “Honey, I’m burned out, forget Jerusalem , I think I’m going to daven on the block.” Where would be the unity, where would be the community?
In these times Yerushalayim needs all our support. By appreciating, attending and working for our Synagogues we will strengthen Yerushalayim we too will be transported to the real Yerushalayim.
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