What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God. — Monica Baldwin
After the Jewish nation has fled Egypt, had the sea part for them, received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai and started learning in earnest the laws of God, God commands them to build the Tabernacle. In fact, the remainder of the Book of Exodus deals predominantly with the instructions regarding the Tabernacle and its subsequent construction.
For those of us familiar with the narrative, we are already accustomed to the presence of the Tabernacle. Presumably, even the idolatrous cultures at the time would find nothing surprising about a dedicated edifice for a divinity. However, from a Jewish theological perspective, the concept can be startling. Can we really create an abode for an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God? What does it even mean?
The Bat Ayin focuses on the prime verse in Exodus 25:8 which states:
“And make for me a Temple and I will dwell among them.”
He explains that it indeed stretches the theological imagination as to how the presence of God can be somehow more focused in a prescribed spatial location and that in some unknowable way it was a function of God humbling Himself. In order to connect with us in a more tangible and intimate way God elected to have some aspect of Himself concentrated (as in the Kabalistic concept of Tzimtzum). This apparently reflects an incredible level of humility. Again, it is impossible to imagine these concepts, but it takes a divine magnitude of humility to somehow redirect or refocus a part of the divine essence to a point in space and time.
The Bat Ayin adds, that part of this distillation effort on God’s part was a reflection of the nation of Israel also demonstrating humility. That when Israel was commanded to construct the Tabernacle, they needed to show their reverence to God in their thoughts, their speech and their deeds. The only way to accomplish that was to have true and wholehearted humility and subservience to God. When God saw Israel’s humility, He mirrored their efforts, humbled Himself and concentrated an aspect of His presence into the physical structure of the Ark of the Covenant that was housed within the Tabernacle.
May we realize the value of healthy humility and that God is closest to the humble.
To our son, Yehoshua Spitz, on his graduation from the outstanding Mechina Olamit pre-military training program, and his enlisting in the IDF’s artillery division next month.