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Me n' The Mishkan

By: Elisha Wiesel (madrich)

It is really great being in Israel for the year...again. I mean, not many people have the chance to come back (most people either get married, find a job, or go to grad school.) One simple difference is the way we view the Shabbos and the weekly parsha here at the yeshiva. For instance, last year, Parshat Teruma-Teztaveh was just a regular week of school and work culminating in a quiet Shabbos. In Israel, it is much more clear: We are all talking about the Parsha and "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark;" craziness in Cairo, secrets of the Aron, with some American guy trying to figure out Judaism. All in all, its great to be here.

The question of how to combine Rosh Chodesh Adar I, Parshat Teruma, and Malachim I is one that has stunned many in the past but will be answered here today (or tonight if you read it at night.) One of the most common speeches of Parshat Teruma relates to the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. The simple idea is that the Mishkan is the way we connect to God, a place for God to "rest" within our presence. One of the prominent Mashgichim of Eretz Yisroel, Harav Elie Marcus, asks, "What's the point in hearing about the Mishkan? Does God really need a place to rest with us? What about today? Where does God rest?"

R' Elie goes on to explain that the Shlah HaKadosh, the Alshich Hakadosh (2 out of 4) and the Nefesh HaChaim all explain that the Mishkan is still around today. Where is it? In every single Jewish heart. As the Kotzker is known to have said, "Where is God? Wherever you let Him in." That is the meaning of the pasuk (Exodus 25:8) "V'Asu Li Mikdash, V'Shachanti B'Tocham" (They shall make Me (God) a Sanctuary so that I may dwell amongst them." Btocham truly means "in them" and that is how we relate to God, like the Kotzker says, by letting Hashem in.

The Haftorah that we don't read because of Rosh Chodesh discusses Shlomo's building of the Beis Hamikdash. I asked R' Moshe Yerushun how it relates to the parsha and he explained that the same words are used in Malachim I. The pasuk (Kings I 6:13) tells us, "V'Shechanti B'Toch Bnei Yisroel..." which means "I (God) shall dwell amongst BY" and once again, we can translate it literally to mean that God dwells within us rather than amongst us.

The last thing is how can we truly make ourselves into a holy person in order to allow God to dwell within us? R' Moshe Yeshurun says that the way to allow God to dwell within us and in our daily lives is by following the mitzvos because that is what is described in the pasuk preceding the V'Shechanti of the Haftorah. What does that have to with Adar? Nothing. Unless we make something of it.

I know the Gemara talks about there being four Rosh Hashanas (Fruit, Torah, Life/Tithes, and Kings/Holidays) but I think if there was a New Year for Happiness it would be Adar. This is the time to increase happiness. How do we make ourselves happier? Simple. Do something positive. Meaning, now is the time to increase an aspect of our lives spiritually. Every happiness book (email me if you found one that doesn't mention this idea) teaches about the importance of helping others. It makes you feel good about yourself.

I think that Adar is the ideal time to begin adding to our lives by helping others. This can take just a few moments of a day but will effect you forever. For example, give two people a compliment every morning before noon - a. co-worker, a random guy in bio class, a family member, etc. If done sincerely, it will change your day, your month, and your life. Try it.

The following is a nice story from a friend: My friend rides the subway to work and encounters many people asking for money. Being a generous guy, he hands out a quarter or a dollar to anyone who asks. Before the holidays one year, a man in washed up military garb came asking for money claiming that he was a Vietnam veteran without money and he wanted to spend the holidays out West with his family. My friend gave him the usual and that was it. A couple of weeks after New Years, on the way to work, the same man from the previous month was on the train again. My friend said he was wondering what the guy would be collecting for this time when the man began to speak and said, "I don't know if you remember me but I was here collecting last month in order to go away for the holidays. Well, I raised enough money to go out to Arizona to be with my family and it was the best Christmas of my life. I just wanted to come out today to thank everyone for giving to me. Thank you."
This just goes to show you how increasing our goodness with charity, friendliness, and good-heartedness can affect someone forever.
Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom.