Camp YavnehCamp Yavneh
March 01, 2019

Torah Minute with Rav Yaakov – Parshat Vayakhel – 5779

Author - Yaakov Komisar

Feeling God’s Presence

This week’s parsha continues to discuss the Mishkan, a place God commanded the Jewish people to build, “and I will dwell in you.” Notably, God does not say I will dwell “in it,”but “in you,” in the people themselves. The point of the Mishkan is for the people to come together and create a place for God to “live,” meaning a place where Divinity and spirituality are more impactful, because it is where the presence of God rests.

But isn’t God everywhere? God doesn’t need a “house,” within the Jewish people or otherwise. Does God need all of this construction and garments and gold and vessels and incense and sacrifices? Of course not. So then what purpose do these rituals and objects serve? The entire structure of the Mishkan, of meticulous and complex ritual and architecture, is so precisely laid out in the Torah, so exacting, that it must exist for a reason.

Commentators Sefer Hachinuch and the Ramchal agree that God doesn’t need a place to live, but that the Mishkan (and the later Beit HaMikdash) are rather, for us, for the people. They exist for us to have a place to be exposed to more holiness, inspired by God’s presence to be better and do more mitzvot, earning our blessings from God. This is what God means by “I will dwell in you.” Not just within the people, but for the sake of the people. And indeed, the Jewish people’s coming together to build the Mishkan itself was an act of unity that fostered this holiness as they prepared a place to encounter God’s presence.

For many of us, camp is the place where we feel God’s presence most. It’s where we come together each year to create a Klal Yisroel community. Each activity we do together at camp is another “ritual” helping us do this, from the actual Jewish rituals to secular activities. Now with camp only four months away (!), we can start asking ourselves what we want to do this summer to help make camp a place where we can feel God’s presence and be inspired.

Questions for the Shabbat Table:

  • In what ways do you feel inspired at camp?
  • What can you do that would contribute to camp being a place where we are all inspired to do more and more mitzvot?