"And God's Glory Filled the Mishkan"
STUDENT SUMMARIES OF SICHOT OF THE ROSHEI YESHIVA
SICHA OF HARAV
And Gods Glory Filled the Mishkan
In his Introduction to Sefer Shemot, Ramban explains the momentous significance of this moment:
behold, the exile will not be over until the day when they return to their place
and to the level of their ancestors. When they left
to Ramban, even after the Exodus from
However, a closer look at the verses also reveals the opposite phenomenon: it is specifically after the inauguration of the Mishkan that Moshe is prevented from entering the Tent of Meeting, and a sort of barrier appears between him and God. We may suggest that the words lo yakhol mean that he was not authorized or not permitted," rather than not able to enter, such that the text is not describing any deficiency in the relationship between Moshe and God. However, the literal reading of the verse suggests that Moshe was simply unable to enter the Tent of Meeting.
The verses provide two reasons for this inability: For the cloud rested upon it," and Gods glory filled the Mishkan." It seems that there is a profound difference between these two reasons.
The cloud resembles a locked door: it is a barrier that prevents Moshe from entering the Mishkan. The cloud, as it were, guards the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, blocking anyone from passing through. In contrast, Gods glory," which fills the Mishkan, prevents Moshe from entering for a different reason. It is not a matter of the Tent of Meeting being locked; rather Gods glory fills it completely, and hence there is no room for Moshe to enter, even if the cloud was not preventing him from doing so.
Either way, we come back to our question: why is it specifically after Am Yisrael ascends to such a lofty level that the direct encounter with God is blocked?
It would appear that when God came down to dwell amongst His people, He saw fit to emphasize the barrier separating Him from mortals. While God permits His Presence to dwell amongst the nation, this dwelling still has barriers and boundaries. The Divine Presence never descended lower than ten handbreadths [from the ground] (Sukka 5a). Despite the closeness between Am Yisrael and God, the Holy One remains transcendent. Even the most unique of men, Moshe himself, cannot enter the Mishkan while the Divine Presence rests there.
fact, the same concept finds expression in the
And the tips of the poles [of the Ark of the Covenant] were visible does this mean that they did not move from their place? [Surely not, and] accordingly the text teaches, and the poles were long." Does this mean that they tore through the curtain and protruded? [Surely not, and] accordingly the text teaches, And they were not seen on the outside." How was this possible? They pressed the curtain and protruded and stood out like a womans two breasts, as it is written, a bundle of myrrh is my Beloved to me, lying between my breasts. Rav Katina said: When Am Yisrael would make their pilgrimage, the curtain would be rolled back and they would be shown the keruvim, intertwined with each other, and they would say to them: See how beloved you are before God like the love of a man and woman. (Yoma 54a)
However, it is precisely for this reason that it was important to emphasize, right at the beginning, at the inauguration of the Mishkan, that there remains a great distance between the Divine realm and the mortal realm:
And it was, when the kohanim emerged from the Kodesh, that the cloud filled Gods house, and the kohanim could not stand and minister because of the cloud, for Gods glory filled Gods house. (I Melakhim 8:10-11)
We may add that the two obstacles noted above express two distinct differences between God and man. The cloud represents Gods transcendental nature and mans inability to grasp His essence or to reach Him. Any attempt to cleave to Gods actual essence is blocked, as it were, by a locked door. On the other hand, Gods glory symbolizes the intimacy of Gods closeness. The intensity of this intimacy is so great that the existence of all of Creation is placed in doubt, since there is none but Him," and there is no room in the world for any other entity. It is as though there is no room for separate creations in the world in which Gods essence is revealed.
According to the above, the Mishkan expresses the situation that was meant to prevail in the world had it not been for Gods mercy which facilitates our existence, and the fact that the world continues to exist only by virtue of Gods will.
(This sicha was delivered on Shabbat parashat Pekudei 5755 .)