It is important to realise that the Tent of Meeting, the Desert Shrine, was not a reminder of the relationship between Adonai and Israel. Neither was it meant to be an image of it. Adonai showed Himself realtime only to Moses. However His voice was audible and realtime present in this Mikdash, the Tabernacle. What Israel had experienced at Mount Sinai could only be repeated in a sense at least, because we had this holy portable meeting point with us. Moreover real atonement and forgiveness out of His own hands was received in this Desert Sanctuary.

All these things also happened in the Temples of Israel. The Tent of Meeting is an Embassy of the Kingdom of Adonai. And as such the compound of it is holy territory. It is the place for Adonai to dwell among His people. The name Mishkan is given to it for that reason. In order for the Tabernacle to be built exactly according to G-d’s will Adonai showed a heavenly model to Moses (Exodus 25:40; 26:30). This teaches us that the Temple is an eternal structure.

In the innermost being of this structure the Law was kept in the Ark. Just like the Law is in the hearts of the Jewish people, read Deuteronomy 6:5 and 30:6. The literal writing of the Torah (Law) into the hearts would come later, as our prophet Jeremiah has foretold (31:31-33). But the Tabernacle showed already the image of the Jewish people of Israel with the Law in our hearts. The Tabernacle is the image of what Adonai revealed at Sinai.

And the Ark is the image of the sanctity of the Tabernacle, because of the stone Tablets with the Aseret Hadibrot (Ten Words). Likewise we are sanctified when we consciously carry G-d’s Torah in our hearts and bring it into practice. Among all the unique and important parts of the Tabernacle the Menorah stands out. It provides light at night (Exodus 27:21), when darkness reigns. In Proverbs we read: The spirit of man is the menorah of Adonai, searching all the inward parts of his innermost being (Proverbs 20:27).

Innermost being, literally: belly. Perhaps the fact that the showbread is being lit by the Menorah has a parallel with this image. Priests had the task of providing oil for the Menorah continuously, in order to be able to light the lamps every evening. Likewise we need to make sure that we have “oil” in our “containers” in order to have the heavenly light, as a pledge, a spiritual voucher, as a token of the powers of the olam haba, the world to come. Of which the Shabbat is another token.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehilla of Beth Yeshua
Amsterdam, Holland