Vol 16.54 - Pekudei 3             Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5738) The reason that the Siyum of Shemot (Ex 40:38) is concerning their journeys ("When the cloud rose up from over the Mishkan, the children of Israel set out in all their journeys").
The connection between the counting of Bnei Yisroel (And these and the names at beginning of Sefer Shmot) to the aspect of Geulah,
Explanation of two boundaries in the intent of Creation - making a dwelling place for G-d in this world ("dirah betachtonim") - and the hint to them in the beginning of Sefer Shemot and its conclusion.  


1. After the Torah recounts in detail the setting up of the Mishkan, and after that, the resting of the Shechinah in the Mishkan, as it states:

“And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the L-rd filled the Mishkan”

And that the resting was so much so that it states:

“Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud rested upon it and the glory of the L-rd filled the Mishkan”

The Torah then tells us that:

“When the cloud rose up from over the Mishkan, the Bnei Yisroel set out in all their journeys. But if the cloud did not rise up, they did not set out until the day that it rose.”

One must understand:

Hearing these two verses there, where it speaks regarding the order of the journeys of Yisroel in the desert – and as this is indeed repeated (at length) – in Parshat Behaalotecha –

What is the connection between the “journeys”

(that specifically “When the cloud rose up . .set out in all their journeys. But if the cloud did not rise up, they did not set out”)

with the subject of the Parshat here, which speaks entirely of the resting of the Shechinah in the Mishkan?

The Sforno explains that, the very reason it states: “When the cloud rose up . .set out in all their journeys” is an indication, a depiction of the extent of how much the resting of the Shechinah was set (בקביעות) in the Mishkan, so much so that it was in a manner that: “It would not leave, at all, from there until Yisroel was required to travel”

However, this explanation is, seemingly, not straightforward:

For from the wording of the verse, it is possible that it is coming to recount the “journeys” themselves, as the Midrash states: “This is the story of the journeys”.

It is therefore not understood, as aforementioned: What connection does the “story of the journeys” – whose place (where it is elaborated at length) is in Parshat Behaalotecha – with the setting up of the Mishkan and the resting of the Shechinah in it?

This question is even stronger according to what the Sages state, in the beginning of Sefer Vayikra that:

“And He called to Moshe” (״ויקרא אל משהי) is a continuation of what is stated here

(before the verse: “And when the cloud arose etc.) :

“Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting” – that Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting until – “He called to Moshe” for that calling allowed Moshe to be able to enter the Tent of Meeting.

Therefore it comes out that in the flow of the verses: “Moshe could not” and “He called to Moshe”, the Torah pauses with a side aspect – the story of the journeys – which, seemingly, has no connection with the aspect of the Mishkan.

2. All aspects of Torah are precise, and since the Midrash states that “And He called to Moshe”,

(the beginning of Sefer Vayikra)

is a continuation of (the conclusion of our Parsha) “Moshe could not” etc. – it is understood that the connection is also in the subject of both Parshiot (from which these verses are a part).

This means that Sefer Vayikra whose aspect is the book of Korbanot, comes in continuation - not just to the story of the building and setting up of the Mishkan (the place where the Korbanot were brought) but also - to the details in the manner of the resting of the Shechinah in the Mishkan, which is recounted in the Parsha, and specifically comes at its conclusion.

One could say, that this is also the reason, that after the verse “Moshe could not etc.”, the verse pauses and recounts the “journeys” of the Yidden, as they were connected with “When the cloud rose up from over the Mishkan etc.” – which represent the departing (סילוק) ,of the Shechinah from the Mishkan –

For the essential aspect of the Korbanot is connected (even more so than the with the resting of the Shechinah in the Mishkan) specifically with this - that the journeys of the Yidden (“in all their journeys”) demanded (פאדערט) (between them) an aspect of the departing of the Shechinah (as will be explained in Par. 8)

3. One could understand this by prefacing an explanation of the relation between the conclusion of Sefer Shmot to its beginning -

(and as the maxim states: “their end is rooted in their beginning, and their beginning in their end (נעוץ סופן בתחלתן ותחלתן בסופן),

This connection manifests itself also, in that, which the names of the first Sidra and the last Sidra of Sefer Shmot, depict the aspect of “counting” (״מניו״).

·         “Shmot” – as Rashi explains is: “Though (Scripture) has previously enumerated them . . it again enumerates them . . to show how dear they are (to G-d), because they are compared to the stars etc.”

·         “Pekudei” – the enumeration of “all the weights of the contributions to the Mishkan-. .all its vessels . . each with its function.”

The subject of Sefer Shmot is – the Geulah of Yisroel from Egypt. Therefore, according to this, it must come out that the aspect of “Geulah” is connected with the aspect of “counting” (which binds the beginning with the end of the Sefer).

It is not understood:

“Counting” and “Geulah” are seemingly completely opposite things:

·         When things are counted, this itself shows that the things are limited (מוגבל) (in the total of the counting) and the “counting” emphasizes this.

·         Whereas (true) “Geulah” depicts a condition of going out of straits (מצרים) , Galut and limitations.

This very concept of a thing and its opposite is also found in the beginning of the Sefer (Shmot) itself:

The name of the Sidra (which alludes to the subject of the entire Sidra) is “Shmot” which relates (באציט) only to the limited counting of the “Bnei Yisroel who came to Egypt” – and immediately afterwards it states that “The Bnei Yisroel were fruitful and prolific, and their population multiplied. They were exceedingly (במאד מאד) mighty etc.” This depicts a proliferation which completely deviates from the norm. And since this is also a part of Parshat Shmot, it comes out that also the “fruitful and prolific . . exceedingly) is a part of the subject of the aspect of the “counting”.

Similarly we find in the conclusion of the Sefer:

“Pekudei (counting of the Mishkan)” - depicts, as aforementioned, on counting and limitation (like the vessels of the Mishkan etc. that were all with number and limitation).

However, in the conclusion of Parshat Pekudei it speaks of “and Moshe could not . . for the Shechinah rested” – namely how the resting of the Shechinah in the Mishkan was not limited

 (as it states: “Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting” meaning that the resting in the Mishkan was higher even than Moshe’s ability who was the “chosen of all the species of man”).

4. The general explanation of this is:

Even though the purpose is that one should come to the level of “Bli Gevul” (without limitation) – (represented by) Geulah – which is higher than the measure and boundaries of the world – nevertheless, the intent of this is not that it (the acting without limitation - Bli Gevul) become completely without limitation (אויס גבול) – but rather there must be an attachment between the Bli Gevul and the bounded (גבול).

(Note: In other words, a person must not conduct himself without regard of limitation, but rather he must have a grasp in reality)

(As we find regarding the counting of Bnei Yisroel – as it states: “And the number of the Bnei Yisroel shall be as the sand of the sea, which shall neither be measured nor counted;”

and this also applies to the Mishkan - the resting of the Shechinah which is higher than measure and counting was in (the vessels of) the Mishkan which were with counting and measure, as aforementioned).

For since the Supernal intent (כוונה העליונה) is that: “G-d desires for Himself an abode in the lower realms” (״נתאווה הקב״ה להיות לו דירה בתחתונים״), one must accomplish two things:

1. It must become an abode for G-d – for G-d‘s Essence (which is completely higher than the world).

2. The “abode” must be in the “lower realms” – in “this physical world etc. where there is no lower one than it” (specifically in measure and limitation (Gevul)).

5. These two aforementioned aspects:

1. The “abode” for G-d‘s Essence

2. That the abode must be in the “lower realms”

– manifests itself, in general, in the difference between the souls of Yisroel and the “world”:

 The (Pnimiyut of) the aspect of the abode for G-d is “specifically to reside and dwell in the Neshamot Yisroel (Jewish souls) etc. – that Knesset Yisroel be an abode (מכון) for G-d‘s Presence” – for since “Yisroel and G-d are entirely one” (״ישראל וקוב״ה כולא חד״), the Yidden are the true “abode” of G-d - they are, as it were, one entity with G-d.

(Whereas the “Abode in the lower realms”, regarding the world is (just) that which - it is felt in the world that its entire being is just because of G-d’s essence, and that “besides Him there is no being whatsoever”).

However, the “abode” becomes accomplished in the “lower realms” specifically - in the Avodah of the Yisroel in this lower world, to make from the physical things a receptacle for G-dliness. For specifically through them can the root of the souls of Yisroel become revealed (the way they are united with G-d‘s essence).

In another manner:

When does it manifest visibly that Yidden are an abode for G-d – namely that they are utterly united with G-d’s essence, without any limitation or obstacle? This is specifically when the boundary and measure of the “lower realms” are not an obstacle, but on the contrary, the lower realms, themselves, become, through the Yidden, a proper place to be an abode for G-d.

6. With this one can understand why the “beginning” of Sefer Shmot is about the counting of the Bnei Yisroel – and that its “end” – is concerning the counting of the vessels of the Mishkan:

·         Sefer Bereshit speaks of Creation itself, the way it was before its intent was revealed (א נטפלעקט) – “for the Torah and for Yisroel”.

·         Sefer Shmot speaks, however concerning Yisroel (the way they were “born” (״נולד״) as the nation of Yisroel) and Torah. For through them the intent of Creation is conducted. And in this (that which Yidden carry out the intent of Creation) there is a “beginning” and “end”.

The “beginning” (the primary and inner aspect) of the intent is – Bnei Yisroel – the way they are united with G-d. This is the aspect of counting Bnei Yisroel in Parshat Shmot: “to show how dear they are’. (Therefore this counting was done by G-d Himself – G-d counted them, and in the Torah)

The “end” - meaning the way the intent becomes carried out, in actuality – is by making a Mishkan for G-d from physical things.

Since the root of the Jewish souls (the way they are one entity with G-d) specifically comes about visibly, in the Avodah in “Tachtonim” in a place of cloaking and hiddenness – therefore it is understood, that is carried out mainly,

(even more so than through the Avodah of building the Mishkan – a place of revealed G-dliness)

Through the Avodah of a “Tachton” that, of its own accord, in not a receptacle for G-d, and more generally – in the Avodah in the tine of Galut when G-dliness is not illuminated visibly in the world.

And this is the explanation why at the conclusion of the story regarding the construction of the Mishkan and the resting of the Shechinah in the Mishkan – the verse tells the “story of the journeys” which is connected with “and when the cloud arose etc.”

The purpose of the Mishkan (to make from the “Tachtonim” an abode for G-d) is accomplished, mainly through that which (the Mishkan give a power, that it should also be) in “all their journeys”

This is like what the Alter Rebbe explains that the journeys in the desert allude (also) to the refinement of the “wilderness of the peoples” (מִדְבַּר הָעַמִּים ) during the time of Galut –

For then the Shechinah is in Galut (שכינתא בגלותא), the revelation of the Shechinah is missing,

(“When the cloud rose up - the departing (סילוק), of the Shechinah)

and Yidden refine and transform the concealment of the world that even there, G-dliness illuminates.

8. The aforementioned aspect (that the purpose of the Mishkan is carried out mainly through Avodah in the ‘outside’ (חוץ) of the Mishkan, manifests itself also in the aspect of the Mishkan itself – in that which the main Avodah of the Mishkan was in the Avodah of the Korbanot.

The difference between the Mishkan itself and the Avodah of the Korbanot is:

Regarding the construction of the Mishkan, the purpose is

(not so much in elevating the physical things from which the Mishkan was made, but rather, primarily)

 in making a place in this world where there could be the resting of the Shechinah, from Above (for the resting in incomparably higher form the physical things).

Whereas the aspect of the Avodah of the Korbanot is – to refine and elevate the physical animal etc., and making from it an offering to G-d, holiness.

Therefore, even though the Avodah of the Korbanot (the drawing down of holiness, that comes through it) is a preparation in order to achieve a higher level – to the resting (of the Shechinah) which is in the Mishkan (in the Ark)

(which is why the Alef of the word “Vayikra” a small Alef (וַיִּקְרָא), which depicts contraction (Tzimtzum). For in the Avodah of (the Korbanot, which is the subject of Sefer Vayikra, a book of) Korbanot -the holy light (אור הקדושה) that is drawn down (“Vayikra” – from the word calling and drawing down (המשכה)) – is a small(er) one (קלענערער) compared to the essence of the Shechinah which was in the Mishkan).

Nevertheless, specifically through this, can one come to even a higher intent of the Mishkan – of making physical low things (גשמיים דברים תחתונים) themselves a receptacle for G-dliness.

Therefore it is understood why “And He called to Moshe” (״ויקרא אל משה״) (and the sefer of Korbanot, in general) is a (also) continuation of “And when the cloud arose etc.”) (As aforementioned in Par. 2) – because in both of them, the same point is emphasized, namely that the intent of the Mishkan is also carried out, and on the contrary – more so, through the Avodah in a place where the resting of the Shechinah in the Mishkan, is absent.

9. Even though in the Avodah during the time off the journeys, there was missing the revelation of the Shechinah – nevertheless specifically through this, is the root of the Yidden revealed namely how they are united with G-d, as aforementioned at length.

And this is the inner explanation of:

“When the cloud rose up from over the Mishkan, the Bnei Yisroel set out in all their journeys”

Outwardly (בחיצוניות), one actually saw an aspect of the departing of the Shechinah. Yet in pnimiyut, it is through that Avodah, that one takes from a level that is higher than the cloud of the Mishkan, and one draws into the Mishkan, in the encampment after this – “their journeys” - in the place that they encamped there –

And this is the lesson for each person (אחד ואחת) in his Avodah:

Notwithstanding the darkness of Galut,

and in particular, since each person knows his own soul (ידע אינש בנפשי׳) – his particular standing and condition, the personal Galut which he possesses –

nevertheless, he must realize that – by carrying out G-d’s mission “in all their journeys”, in whatever journeys it is –

That if it his “journeys” are connected with G-d’s cloud

(specifically the “When the cloud rose up . .But if the cloud did not rise up, they did not set out.”)

meaning that he realizes that “G-d guides the steps of man (״מה׳ מצעדי גבר כוננו״) - that wherever he goes and in whatever situation he finds himself – that he is connected with a mission (שליחות) from G-d, to make an abode for G-d in the “Tachtonim”. Therefore his journeys in Galut are according to G-d ‘s will.

And he will then attain the: “when the cloud arose” in a positive sense (למעליותא) – that he takes from a level that is higher than the cloud,

(Even though that also that revelation of the cloud is higher, even than the Moshe Rabbeinu’s ability, which is present in his soul, as aforementioned)

and he draws this down in the encampment afterwards – so much so that “Yisroel and G-d are completely one”.

mSichas Shabbat Parshat Pekudei 5724, 5727


Translation 2:

I. After the Torah describes the erection of the Sanctuary in detail,1 it relates that the Divine Presence rested upon the Sanctuary, as it is written:2 “And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of G‑d filled the Sanctuary.” That revelation was so powerful that “Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud rested upon it and the glory of G‑d filled the Sanctuary.”3 The Torah then contin­ues:4 “When the cloud ascended from the Sanctuary, the children of Israel would journey forth on all their travels. And if the cloud did not ascend, they would not journey forth until it did ascend.”

These verses present a difficulty: On the surface, the concluding verses which speak about the journeys of the Jewish people in the desert belong — where they are indeed repeated (and elaborated upon) — in Parshas Behaalos’cha.5 What is the connection between the pattern of the Jews’ journeys (— that “when the cloud... they would journey forth.... And if the cloud did not ascend, they would not journey forth...” —) with the content of our Torah reading which speaks of the Divine Presence resting in the Sanctu­ary?

The Seforno6 attempts to resolve this question, explaining that the fact that the Jews would journey forth when the cloud ascended demonstrated the permanence with which the Divine Presence rested within the Sanctu­ary. “For it would not withdraw at all until the Jewish people had to journey forth.”

On the surface, however, this explanation does not resolve the issue. For the wording of the verse appears to indicate that its intent is to relate the pattern of the Jewish people’s journeys. As the Midrash7 states: “This is the description of the journeys.” And thus, the question remains: What is the connection between the “description of the journeys” which are detailed at length in Parshas Behaalos’cha with the story of the erection of the Sanctuary and the manifestation of G‑d’s Presence within it?

This question is reinforced by our Sages’ statements8 that note the connection between the beginning of Parshas Vayikra, 9 “And He called to Moshe,” and its preceding verse (“When the cloud ascended...) Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting.” Our Sages explain: because “Moshe could not enter,” G‑d “called to Moshe” and made it possi­ble for him to go into the Tent of Meeting.

Thus it appears that between the verses that follow in sequence — “Moshe could not enter...” and “And He called to Moshe” — the Torah interrupts the conceptual flow and mentions a peripheral matter — the description of the jour­neys which is seemingly unrelated to the Sanctuary.

II. All concepts in the Torah are precise. Since the Midrash explains that “And He called to Moshe” (the beginning of the Book of Vayikra) comes in sequence to the conclusion of Parshas Pekudei, “Moshe could not enter,” there is a thematic connection shared by the Torah readings in which these verses are included.

The Book of Vayikra, the Book of the Sacrifices,10 follows not only the narrative of the construction and the erection of the Sanctuary (the place where the sacrifices are offered), but also the particular description of the manner in which G‑d’s Presence rested in the Sanctuary. This is the theme of Parshas Pekudei, and particularly, of the concluding passages.

It is possible to explain that this is the reason why after the Torah states: “And Moshe could not enter...,” it makes an interruption and mentions the journeys of the Jewish people which are associated with “the cloud ascending from the Sanctuary,” i.e., the withdrawal of G‑d’s Presence. The spiritual import of the sacrifices is associated with the concept that for the Jews to journey forth from their encampments G‑d’s Presence had to ascend from the Sanctuary. (As will be explained in section VIII,) this factor is more significant than the actual indwelling of G‑d’s Presence in that structure.

III. The above matters can be resolved by prefacing another concept: the connection between the conclusion of the Book of Shmos with its beginning (following the principle:11 “The end is rooted in the beginning, and the beginning in the end”). This is reflected by the fact that the names of both the first and the last parshiyos of the book are related to the concept of counting.

The name of the first parshah, Shmos, is related to counting, as Rashi states: “Although the Torah counted them previously... it counts them again... to show their dearness, that they are compared to stars.” And Pekudei, which means “reckoning,” certainly relates to that concept, for it includes the account “of the shekalim donated to the Sanctuary... all its utensils, for its service.”12

Now the theme of the Book of Shmos is the redemption of the Jewish people13 from Egypt. It thus appears that the theme of redemption is connected with the concept of counting (which connects the beginning14 and the conclu­sion15 of the text). A conceptual difficulty thus arises, for seemingly counting and redemption are two opposite concepts. “The very fact that an entity can be counted” — indicates that the entity is limited (and thus can be reck­oned in a tally). Counting thus emphasizes the theme of limitation. Redemption (in its ultimate sense), by contrast, reflects the departure from Egypt, i.e., the transcendence of exile and limitation.16

This fusion of opposites is reflected in the beginning of the book itself. The name of the Torah reading (which reflects the theme of the entire Torah reading) is Shmos, which refers to the limitations17 implied by the counting of “the children of Israel who came into Egypt.” And directly afterwards, the verse relates:18 “And the children of Israel were fruitful, increased, multiplied, and became very, very powerful,” indicating a population explosion far beyond the ordinary norm. This verse is also part of the parshah of Shmos. Thus this prodigious growth is also a part of the “counting” of the Jewish people.

Similarly, the conclusion of the book Parshas Pekudei, which recounts the reckoning of [the donations for the Sanctuary, also obviously reflects limitation (for all the vessels of the Sanctuary were of a limited number and size). Nevertheless, the conclusion of the parshah: “Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud rested upon it and the glory of G‑d filled the Sanctuary,” reflects the unlimited manifestation of the Divine Presence in the Tent of Meeting. Its transcendence was so great that even Moshe, “the most select of all men,”19 could not approach it.

IV. In general, the concept can be explained as follows: The ultimate goal is that we should transcend limitations and reach the redemption, a level beyond the measures and limitations of our world. The intent is not, however, that the transcendence will nullify the existence of this limited framework, but that there will be a fusion of infinity and finiteness.20

{We see this concept expressed with regard to the counting of the Jewish people, as it is written:21 “And the number of the children of Israel will be as the sands of the sea which cannot be measured and cannot be counted,” i.e., there will be a number, and that number will “not be meas­ured, nor counted.”

A similar concept applies with regard to the Sanctuary. G‑d’s Presence, which is unlimited and unbounded, came to rest in (the vessels of) the Sanctuary which are measured and limited entities.}

The rationale for this is that G‑d’s intent is defined by our Sages as follows: “The Holy One, blessed be He, desired a dwelling in the lower realms.”22 This implies two dimensions:

a) There must be a dwelling for G‑d’s essence23 (which transcends our worldly frame of reference entirely); and

b) That dwelling shall be in “the lower worlds,”24 i.e., in this material world, below which there is none, (i.e., a limited and bounded framework).

V. These two dimensions — that the dwelling be for G‑d’s essence, and that it be in the lower realms — reflect the difference between the Jewish people and the world at large.

The (inner) dimension of G‑d’s dwelling is “to dwell and rest within the souls of the Jewish people... that they become a resting place in which He dwells.”25 Since “the Holy One, blessed be He, and Israel are one,”26 the Jewish people are the true dwelling for G‑d’s essence, for they are one with His essence.27

{The concept of “a dwelling in the lower realms” for the world at large,28 by contrast, is (merely) that the world will appreciate that the totality of its existence stems from G‑d’s essence; “aside from Him, there is absolutely no existence at all.”29}

This dwelling is established in the lower worlds, through the Divine service of the Jewish people in this material realm, by making physical entities a medium for G‑dliness. For it is through these efforts that the source of the Jewish souls — the level at which they are united with G‑d’s essence — is revealed.30

To use slightly different wording: When will it be revealed that the Jews are a dwelling for G‑d — that they are united with G‑d’s essence in a consummate manner, without any limitations and restraints? When the limits and bounds of this material world do not present any constraint, and instead, the lower realms themselves become a fit place for His dwelling.31

VI. Based on the above, we can appreciate why the begin­ning of the Book of Shmos speaks about the counting of the Jewish people, and the conclusion of the book speaks about the reckoning of the vessels of the Sanctuary.

The Book of Bereishis speaks about the creation itself,32 how it existed before focus was placed on its intent:33 that it was created “for the sake of the Jewish people and for the sake of the Torah.”34 The Book of Shmos, in contrast, speaks about the children of Israel, (how they were con­ceived35 as a people and how they became the Jewish nation), and the Torah. These are the mediums through which the intent of the creation are expressed. In this endeavor, (i.e., the Jews’ efforts to carry out the purpose of the creation,) there is a beginning and a conclusion.

The beginning (the essence and the inner dimension) of the intent is the Jewish people as they are connected with G‑d’s essence. This is reflected in the counting of the Jewish people recounted in Parshas Shmos which “makes known the dearness of the Jewish people.” (Therefore, it is G‑d Him­self who counts the people — and He counts them in the Torah.)

The conclusion — i.e., how the intent is actually expressed — is through making a Sanctuary for G‑d from material entities.36

VII. The source of the souls of the Jewish people (as they are one with G‑d’s essence) is revealed through their Divine service in the lower realms — in a place of concealment and hiddenness. Accordingly, it can be understood that this is accomplished {to an even greater extent than through building the Sanctuary — for this was a place where G‑dliness was revealed37} through Divine service that involves an entity of the lower realms which is not — as it defines itself — a medium for G‑dliness. In a more general sense, this refers to our Divine service in the era of exile when G‑dliness is not apparent in the world.

This is the reason why, at the conclusion of the account of the work involved in constructing the Sanctuary and the manifestation of the Divine Presence within, the Torah tells about the journeys of the Jewish people which are associated with “the ascent of the cloud.” For the ultimate intent of the Sanctuary (which involves making the lower realms a dwelling for G‑d) is achieved primarily through (the potential granted by the Sanctuary38) to carry out “all your journeys.”

In this vein, the Alter Rebbe explains39 that the journeys of the Jewish people through the desert (also) allude to the refinement of the “wilderness of the nations”40 through the Divine service carried out throughout the era of exile. In this era, the Divine Presence is also in exile; it is not revealed. {This is alluded to by the ascent of the cloud which indicates the withdrawal of the Divine Presence.} Nevertheless, the Jews refine and transform the conceal­ment of the world, causing G‑dliness to shine within.

VIII. The above concept (— that the ultimate goal of the Sanctuary is achieved through the Divine service performed outside the Sanctuary —) is expressed within the Sanctuary itself, in the fact that the primary service performed in the Sanctuary was sacrificial worship.41

The difference between the Sanctuary and the offering of the sacrifices can be explained as follows: With regard to the construction of the Sanctuary, the ultimate purpose was {primarily not to elevate the material entities from which the Sanctuary was constructed, but} to create a place in this material realm where the Divine Presence could rest from above. (The manifestation of G‑d’s Presence is incompara­bly above the entire realm of material entities.) The intent of offering the sacrifices,42 by contrast, was to refine and elevate the physical animal being offered and transform it into a sacrifice for G‑d, making it a sacred object.

The sacrificial worship (and the drawing down of holi­ness it brings about) is a preparation to reach a higher level, the manifestation of G‑d’s Presence in the Sanctuary, (and more particularly, in the ark).

{This is reflected in the diminutive form of the alef in the word Vayikra which begins the following book of the Torah, for it alludes to tzimtzum, contraction.43 For sacrifi­cial worship (the theme of the Book of Vayikra) relates to the light of holiness as it is drawn down (— vayikra means “and He called,” i.e., referring to G‑dly light as it is called forth and drawn down44 —) which is a lesser level than the manifestation of G‑d’s Presence in the Sanctuary.45}

Nevertheless, it is through this activity that it is possible to reach a higher intent in the Sanctuary,46 to make the material entities themselves mediums for G‑dliness.47

On this basis, we can appreciate how Vayikra, “And He called to Moshe,” (and the entire Book of Sacrifices) follows in conceptual sequence to the verse “When the cloud ascended...” (one of the questions raised in section II), for they both underscore the same point — that the intent of the Sanctuary should be fulfilled. Indeed, that intent is ful­filled even more in a place where the Divine Presence is not manifest in the Sanctuary.

IX. The Divine service of the Jewish people during their journeys lacks the revelation of the Divine Presence. Never­theless,48 these efforts bring into revelation the source of the souls of the Jewish people, the point at which they are united with G‑d’s essence as explained above.

This is the inner intent of the verse: “When the cloud ascended from the Sanctuary, the children of Israel would journey forth on all their travels.” On an apparent level, the Divine Presence did withdraw. From an inner perspective, however, their Divine service on their journeys is rooted in a level which is higher than the cloud which manifested G‑d’s Presence in the Sanctuary. This level was drawn down and manifest in their next encampment. In that vein, we can appreciate Rashi’s commentary49 which inter­prets “their journeys” as referring to the place of their encampment.

This provides a lesson for every individual in his Divine service. Despite the darkness of the exile, and despite the inner exile in which each person appreciates that he is found, he should know that this journey will lead to a posi­tive conclusion.

A person must be committed to carrying out the Divine mission “in all their journeys” — i.e., regardless of what the journey is, as long as it is associated with “the cloud of G‑d,” as it is written “when the cloud ascended from the Sanctuary, the children of Israel would journey forth... and if the cloud did not ascend, they would not journey forth” — for “From G‑d, man’s footstep are estab­lished.”50 Wherever a person goes, in every situation in which he finds himself, he is given a mission from G‑d to establish a dwelling for Him in the lower realms. Therefore his journey through exile is in accordance with G‑d’s will.

With this approach, he will appreciate a positive dimension of “the cloud ascending”; he will reach a higher level than the cloud. (Although the revelation of the cloud surpasses even the potential of the spark of Moshe Rabbe­inu which he possesses within his soul,51 he will be able to reach an even higher level). He will then draw down this level in the encampment which follows until he reaches the rung at which “Israel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one.”

(https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/148626/jewish/Parshas-Pekudei.htm.Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Pekudei, 5724, 5727)

1.    Shmos 40:17ff.

2.    Ibid.:34.

3.    Ibid.:35.

4.    Ibid.:36-37.

5.    See Bamidbar 9:15ff.

6.    In his commentary to the conclusion of this parshah.

7.    The Lekach Tov in its commentary to this verse.

8.    Midrash Tanchuma, the beginning of Parshas Vayikra, sec. 1, 8; Zohar, Vol. III, p. 3b; Lekach Tov, loc. cit.; Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Behaalos’cha, sec. 6, et al.

9.    Vayikra 1:1.

10.  See the commentary of the Ramban in his introduction to Sefer Vayikra.

11.  Sefer Yetzirah 1:7.

12.    Rashi, the beginning of Parshas Pekudei. See similar concepts in the commen­taries of the Rashbam, the Ramban, and others.

13.    Thus the Ramban (at the conclusion of Parshas Pekudei) refers to the book as Sefer HaGeulah, “the Book of Redemption.” Similarly, Bereishis Rabbah 3:5 refers to Shmos as the book which chronicles how “Israel went out from darkness to light.” See also Shmos Rabbah 1:5 which states that the names of the tribes mentioned in the beginning of the book are mentioned in associa­tion with “the redemption of Israel.”

14.    And the beginning and “head” of every entity includes the entire content of that entity.

15.    And “everything follows the conclusion” (Berachos 12a).

16.    Note also Torah Or (p. 71c ff.) which states that the exodus from Egypt reflects the transcendence of all the boundaries and limitations within the spiritual cosmos.

17.    I.e., it refers to no more than 70 souls as stated in verse 5.

18.    Shmos 1:7.

19.    Rambam, the Commentary to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin, Introduction to ch. 10, the Seventh Principle).

20.    For it is such a fusion that reveals G‑d’s essence, a level that transcends all limitations entirely, with nothing being beyond its potential. It has the capacity to join limitation and transcendence together (see Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, p. 904ff.).
For this reason, the names of the parshiyos (Pekudei and Shmos) express the concept of counting. For it is through the concept of limitation that G‑d’s essence can be tapped (see the explanation of this concept in Likkutei Sichos, loc. cit., p. 905, which explains that for this reason, the Divine service of prayer must be associated with a specific place).
Trans. Note: The intent is that finiteness itself cannot represent G‑d’s essence, for He is utterly unlimited and cannot be circumscribed within any limited scope. And yet, our ordinary conception of infinity is also not appro­priate for G‑d’s essence. For we generally conceive of infinity as the opposite of finiteness, a transcendent and boundless quality. Associating infinity with transcendence alone also indicates that it is not G‑d’s essence. For infinity — like finiteness — has a specific scope; it is infinite and not finite. He, by contrast, is absolutely unbounded. Neither infinity, nor finiteness describes Him, and neither can be disassociated from Him.

21.    Hoshea 2:1. See the maamar of that title and its explanation in Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar, p. 6a ff., 7c ff., et al. See also the extensive explanation in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, pp. 24, 26ff.

22.    Tanya, ch. 36, based on Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Naso, sec. 16.

23.    Or HaTorah, Parshas Balak, p. 997; the series of maamarim entitled Yom Tov Shel Rosh HaShanah, 5666, p. 3, et al.

24.    Tanya, loc. cit.

25.    The series of maamarim entitled Yom Tov Shel Rosh HaShanah, 5666, p. 468. See also Torah Or, Parshas Mishpatim, p. 764; Or HaTorah, p. 1267; Sefer HaMa­maarim 5630, p. 64; Sefer HaMamaarim 5670, p. 199ff.

26.    See Zohar, Vol. III, p. 73a, and 93b. See also our Sages’ (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 5:3) interpretation of the term “My perfect one” (Shir HaShirim 5:2), as “My twin.” See also Likkutei Torah, Shir HaShirim, pp. 34d, 39a.

27.    See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 246 (translated in this series), which explains that because the Jews are one with G‑d, as it were they can experience “the satisfaction of the Creator” which incomparably surpasses the realm of the created beings.
Trans. Note: Only an entity which is entirely one with G‑d can become a dwelling for Him. Because the Jewish people do not have an identity apart from G‑dliness, they can become a dwelling for Him. The world at large, by contrast, has a definition of its own and exists as an apparently separate entity. As such, it cannot be united with Him in a complete manner.

28.    See Likkutei Sichos, loc. cit., and Vol. VI, p. 236 (and note 13) also translated in this series. For this reason, the world is merely a medium through which G‑d’s intent for the creation can be fulfilled, but the intent is not within it itself.

29.    See the maamar entitled ViLekachtem, 5661. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XII, p. 75, the marginal notes to note 30.

30.    See the series of maamarim entitled Yom Tov Shel Rosh HaShanah, 5666, p. 492ff., et al. See Likkutei Sichos, loc. cit., p. 74ff.

31.    Therefore the fact that G‑d’s dwelling is established in the lower worlds is not an ancillary element of its existence. For since the intent for a dwelling in the lower realms stems from G‑d’s essence, it is impossible to say that it is a composite of two factors (see Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 245, note 36). Instead, this dimension is pertinent to the establishment of the dwelling itself.
[Trans. Note: To summarize this section of the sichah: Since the definition of a dwelling is a place where G‑d’s essence is revealed, it follows that this dwelling can only be within the souls of the Jewish people. For they alone are utterly one with G‑d, while existence at large has a separate identity and thus cannot be an appropriate vessel for the manifestation of G‑d’s presence.
On the other hand, for G‑d’s essence — and not merely His revealed pow­ers — to be manifest within the Jewish people, they must descend and carry out their Divine service within this material world. For in the higher spiritual levels of existence, the emphasis is on revealed dimensions of G‑dliness. In this material world, in contrast, the challenges this spiritual environment present require a Jew to tap the essential spark of G‑d within his soul. When he succeeds in this challenge, he expresses how our world is a dwelling for G‑d. Similarly, on a more cosmic scale, when the Jews as a whole complete their Divine service within the world, it will be evident that every element of existence is part of His dwelling.]

32.    As the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 3:5) states: “In its narrative, it is told how the Holy One, blessed be He, became involved and created His world.”

33.    Nevertheless, this is also a portion of the Torah. For in order for the Divine intent in the establishment of a dwelling in the lower realms to be consum­mated, it is necessary that at the outset, the intent of the creation be concealed within it — this is the definition of the term “lower realms” — and that the Jews — through their Divine service — make the world into a dwelling for Him.

34.    Osios d’Rabbi Akiva 2; Rashi, Bereishis 1:1 et al.

35.    See Yechezkel, ch. 16, and commentaries.

36.    To use slightly different wording: There are two dimensions to G‑d’s dwell­ing in the lower realms:
a) the inner dimension of the dwelling; this is achieved within the Jewish people, for their existence is an expression of G‑d’s essence;
b) the external dimension of the world, i.e., that the world becomes a place which is fit for the essence to be revealed. {Nevertheless, as explained in note 31, this intent is not, Heaven forbid, a composite of two thrusts.}

37.    Trans. Note: Although building the Sanctuary involved material entities, since G‑d’s Presence was revealed within it, it did not express entirely the theme of “a dwelling in the lower worlds.” That theme is most consum­mately expressed when Divine service is carried out in a place where G‑dliness is not openly apparent.

38.    [Trans. Note: The Rebbe emphasizes that the Divine service with lower, worldly entities is dependent on the influence of the Sanctuary, i.e., a place where G‑dliness is openly revealed. For the desired Divine service involves not merely establishing a connection with the lower realms, but making them into a dwelling, a place where G‑dliness is evident.}

39.    The maamarim entitled Eileh Maasei in Likkutei Torah; see also the sources quoted in the following note.

40.    Cf. Yechezkel 20:35. See the commentaries of Rabbeinu Bacheya, the Or HaChayim, and others to the beginning of Parshas Maasei; see also Likkutei Torah, the beginning of Parshas Nasso, et al.

41.    Note the Rambam’s definition of the mitzvah to build a Sanctuary in the Mish­neh Torah, Hilchos Beis HaBechirah, “to build a house for G‑d, prepared for sacrifices to be offered within.” (See also similar statements in Sefer HaMitz­vos, pos. commandment 20, and general principle 12.)
See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, p. 1346, note 24 which explains the Ramban’s (commentary to the Torah, the beginning of Parshas Terumah) posi­tion that the manifestation of G‑d’s Presence in the Holy Ark is His primary desire for the Sanctuary. This, however, is G‑d’s purpose for the existence of the Sanctuary. It does not necessarily reflect His intent with regard to the mitzvos which the Jews were commanded to perform within the Sanctuary (man’s Divine service). See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVI, p. 438ff.

42.    See the maamar entitled Vihu Omaid, 5663 Sefer HaMaamarim 5663, p. 50ff. (Kehot, 5713).

43.    Likkutei Torah, Vayikra, p. 1b.

44.    Ibid. (the beginning of sec. 2); see also Tanya, the conclusion of ch. 37.

45.    See Likkutei Torah, op. cit., (1b) which states: “A ray is drawn down for him that enables him afterwards to enter the Tent of Meeting.”

46.    Nonetheless, since the sacrificial worship was also performed in the Sanctu­ary, the concept of establishing a dwelling in the lower realms was fulfilled in a more consummate manner through the journeys of the Jewish people through the desert. It is possible to explain that this is the reason why the details of the journeys of the Jewish people are elaborated upon only in the Book of Bamidbar (which follows the Book of Vayikra). Bamidbar (“in the desert”) reflects the refinement of “the desert of nations.”

47.    Trans. Note: See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, p. 18ff (translated in this series) which explains the advantage of the Beis HaMikdash (where the material enti­ties themselves became holy) over the Sanctuary (which reflected primarily the manifestation of G‑dliness).

48.    This paralles the pattern described in the conclusion of the section, Chinuch Kattan, in Tanya:
One must proceed from level to level... Between one level and another, before one reaches the higher level, one is in a fallen state when compared to one’s original level.
Perhaps this is the same concept described above. {See the first reason for this fall explained in the notes to Chinuch Kattan by R. Hillel of Paritch (printed at the conclusion of Pelach HaRimon, Bereishis).}

49.    Shmos 40:38.

50.    Tehillim 37:23; see HaYom Yom, pp. 69, 104.

51.    See Tanya, ch. 42.

Translation 3:




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