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    A unique partnership – P’kudei

    tabernacle mishkanThe opening words of the sidra describe the sanctuary as “the tabernacle of testimony – mishkan ha-edut” (Ex. 38:21).

    Ibn Ezra and Sforno understand “testimony” as the two tablets of the Torah which were placed within the Ark of the tabernacle. In that sense the Hebrew phrase means “tabernacle containing the testimony”.

    Rashi, however, has a quite different approach. He understands the tabernacle as not merely the repository of the tablets of testimony, but as testimony in itself.

    Basing himself on midrashic sources, he explains that the tabernacle was evidence to Israel that God had shown Himself merciful in relation to the episode of the Golden Calf. By means of the tabernacle (mishkan, literally “dwelling place”) he allowed His Presence to dwell amongst them despite their sin. They had offended Him, but He found Himself able to pardon them for their lapse.

    The sanctuary was called mishkan (“dwelling place”), but it was also called mikdash (“holy place”). Maybe the two names signify the partnership of God and Israel. It was God who made it a dwelling place for the Divine; it was the people who sanctified it and made it holy.

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