Sunday, February 20, 2011

Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei: The Sanctuary of God's Love

Our highest awareness of the Creator, represented by Moses, is what empowers us to unite (assemble) the multidimensional consciousness represented by the children of Israel: “And Moses assembled (vayakhelall the congregation of the children of Israel, and said to them: 'These are the words which the Lord has commanded, that you should do them. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Shabbat of solemn rest to the Lord; whoever does any work therein shall be put to death'.” (Exodus 35:1-2).

This multidimensional awareness encompasses not just every aspect, trait and level of our consciousness but also the individual reality of every Jew, either he be poor, rich, ignorant, wise, weak, strong, etc. When these multiple dimensions are all gathered into the common purpose of creating a dwelling place in this world for the Divine Presence, the first Commandment is to understand this unity in the context of the Shabbat.

The difference between the Shabbat and the rest of the days is emphasized in this portion of the Torah, in the same way that the labors related to the building of the Sanctuary (Tabernacle) are those we do not perform during the Day of Rest. Our Sages explain this distinction not as a separation between the material and the spiritual worlds but as a connection between both. After all, nothing is separated in the Oneness of the Creator and His Creation. In our material reality work shall be done in order not just to make a living and survive but also to pursue individual and collective happiness in our endeavors. At this point we have to define the kind of “work” the Creator commands us to do. God's Commandments are the work we do as His ways and attributes.

We have said that our work in this material world is to reveal God's Love, and we do it by being and manifesting His ways and attributes. That is our work and we do it by choosing between living in ego's fantasies and illusions, and living in the truth of Love. We make this choice every moment in our daily life. Therefore “working” in anything we have to is about being and doing who we really are: God's image and likeness.

This identity is nothing less than God's Love because we emanate from His Love, and we must reveal Love and experience Love as our common bond with Him. In this sense the daily labors to build the Sanctuary are the same endeavors to build the permanent connection with the Creator in our daily life. Hence, building the Sanctuary to achieve this connection is also working in Love's ways and attributes in order to be connected with Him in our physical reality.

The Shabbat is not another day because its Essence transcends time and space: in it the Creator is beyond His Creation and His creating. We have mentioned many times that our Sages say that “the Creator, the Torah, the Shabbat, and Israel, are One”, and this is how we understand life in this world, in our Oneness with the Creator. Without this awareness we live only in the material aspect of the world, and the consequence of this is a life without the Presence of the Creator. This is what the Torah means when it says that the absence of His Presence is tantamount to death. Therefore it is not about imposing the death penalty against those who do not observe the Shabbat, because death is the consequence of not living in it. Does it make sense to live in the material world without the Presence of its Creator in our lives?

Vayakhel continues with the reiteration of the detailed construction of the Sanctuary as indicated in the previous portions. This time the extremely abundant donations from all the children of Israel for the construction are something to celebrate. When we are fully aware of our endeavors to build our permanent connection with God's Love, our hearts urge us to give as much as we can: “And they spoke to Moses, saying: 'The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make'. (…) Because the labors they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.” (36:5, 7). From these verses we learn that we as individuals have the potential to use all our talents, traits, skills and qualities and direct them in Love's ways in order to reveal God's Love in the world.

This portion is usually joined by the last portion of Exodus, Pekudei, which starts with the verse: “These are the accounts (pekudei) of the Tabernacle, even the Tabernacle of the Testimony, as they were rendered according to the commandment of Moses, through the service of the Levites, by the hand of Itamar, the son of Aaron the priest.” (38:21) The description of the Sanctuary continues, and the details end with the crown of the High Priest: “And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it a writing, like the engravings of a signet: 'Holy to the Lord'. And they tied to it a thread of blue, to fasten it upon the cap above; as the Lord commanded Moses.” (39: 30-31) and this crown symbolizes the sacredness of our permanent connection with the Creator.

And they brought the Tabernacle to Moses (…) And Moses saw all the work and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it. And Moses blessed them.” (39: 33, 43) Again Moses is reaffirmed as the highest awareness of the Creator to be in charge of guiding and elevating ALL aspects, levels, dimensions, traits, qualities, and potential expressions of our consciousness in order to be constantly connected to God's ways and attributes. This is Moses' blessing to the children of Israel. When we are ALL united individually and collectively in Love as our common bond with God's Love, He joins us to be One with Him: “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” (40:34) and in this awareness the Divine Presence will always be with us: “Because the cloud of the Lord was upon the Tabernacle by day, and there was fire therein by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” (40: 38)

The book of Exodus begins with our bondage in the lowest materialism and through the power of God's Love we were redeemed with His miracles. In our awareness of God's Love, He embraces us always. In this awareness, represented by the Sanctuary, He fulfills His promise: “And they shall make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst (lit. in them).” (25:8, 29:45-46, Leviticus 26:11, Numbers 5:3, I Kings 6:13)

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From the Book's Foreword

Let's reexamine our ancestral memory, intellect, feelings, emotions and passions. Let's wake them up to our true Essence. Let us engage in the delightful awareness of Love as the Essence of G-d. The way this book is written is to reaffirm and reiterate its purpose, so it presents its message and content in a recurrent way. This is exactly its purpose, to restate the same Truth originally proclaimed by our Holy Scriptures, Prophets and Sages. Our purpose is to firmly enthrone G-d's Love in all dimensions of our consciousness, and by doing it we will fulfill His Promise that He may dwell with us on Earth forever. Let's discover together the hidden message of our ancient Scriptures and Sages. In that journey, let's realize Love as our Divine Essence, what we call in this book the revealed Light of Redemption in the Messianic era.