parshat reeh dwelling of g d shilo vs jerusalem naaleh

Parshat Re’eh- Dwelling of G-d: Shilo vs. Jerusalem

Click to Enlarge presents Rabbi Hershel Reichman teaching about this week’s parsha, Parshat Re’eh

In Parshat Re’eh, we read about the various resting places of the Holy Ark. The Torah refers to the final resting place of the Ark as “Menucha V’Nachala”. Chazal say, “Menucha”-tranquility, refers to Shilo and “Nachala”-a resting place, signifies Yerushalayim, the final destination of the Aron Hashem.

The Shem MiShmuel asks why the Mishkan needed to sojourn first in Shilo before coming to Yerushalayim. He writes that Hashem created the world with various energies. These are manifested in our world in triple form – time, place, and the human soul. The soul is a combination of Moach-intellect and Lev-emotions. Torah study engages the Moach and performing mitzvoth develops the Lev-an awareness and closeness to Hashem.

Moach and Lev are each emphasized in time. Shabbat is Moach and Yom Tov is Lev. On Shabbat, the seventh day of the week, there are seven aliyot. Seven symbolizes completion. The Gemara writes that Shabbat is a day dedicated to the study of Torah. In addition, there is a mitzvah of oneg– pleasure. This is characterized by a feeling that one has achieved completion. Whereas Shabbat involves Moach, intellectual pursuit and satisfaction, Yom Tov exudes simcha-happiness. It is Lev-an emotional experience expressing the joy of existence, not just of man but of the miracle of nature.

Each festival celebrates a different aspect of nature. Pesach is the time of new beginnings, Shavuot is the holiday of the first fruits-bikurim, and Sukkot celebrates the completion of the harvest. There is exhilarating energy in the air as we rejoice with the changing seasons of nature.

Shilo is the place of Moach-intellect and was Hashem’s first resting place. Yerushalayim, the Lev-the emotional center of the Jewish people, was the final destination. Shilo is in the portion of Efraim, the son of Yosef. Yosef symbolizes the power of the mind. According to Kabalah, Yosef’s encounter with the wife of Potiphar was a trial of the Moach. Yosef knew intellectually that the act was wrong. Passion, anger, and fear were all at work to make him sin. Yet his exceptional power of Moach helped him overcome this incredibly difficult test. The first level of holiness is when the mind defeats the sinful passionate heart. According to Jewish law, one who brought up a sacrifice in Shilo was permitted to eat it at a distance as long as one could still see the Mishkan. There were no walls which constricted the person.

This signified that there was a certain confidence that holiness could spread. In contrast, one who brought a sacrifice to Yerushalayim needed to eat it within its walls. The holiness of Yerushalayim was limited as opposed to the kedusha of Shilo which was boundless. This is the power of the mind. Torah learning helps one achieve the level of Yosef which can defeat all evil. This is the power of Shilo and that is why it was the first resting place of the Mishkan.

The Beit Hamikdash, the final stop for the Aron Habrit, was the emotional center of the Jewish nation and was in the portion of Binyamin and Yehuda. Binyamin represents the power of the Moach. Yehuda is royalty, the heart of the nation. This was the second stage. It is much more difficult to channelones emotional passions towards the service of Hashem than to convince the mind of the logic of Torah. The power of Yerushalayim is the invisible energy, the yearning hovering in the air, which draws us close to Hashem. We need to physically be there to sense it. It is the power of the Lev-the heart of Israel, which is a lot greater and more difficult to achieve than Moach.

Yerushalayim is also called Zion, the identical numerical value of Yosef. Yerushalayim is the power of mind and heart working in perfect synch. When the Mishkan moved from Shilo, we did not lose Moach. On the contrary, in addition to gaining heart, the power of the mind increased in Yerushalayim.

The Shem MiShmuel explains that Shilo is Menucha and Yerushalayim is Nachalah. Menucha is temporary. The mind is a fickle thing and flits from one thing to the next. In contrast, the heart, the desire to be close to Hashem, remains eternal. Throughout our long years of exile, the Jewish nation’s strong bond with the Creator was never severed. The physical trappings of Yerushalayim were destroyed but its spiritual holiness lives on forever. Similarly, Shabbat is associated with Menucha-a transient dream. In contrast, Yom Tov, the joyous emotional experience of Lev, remains with us throughout the year.

Let us use the power of our own minds and hearts to build a personal Mishkan, a Mishkan of Lev and Moach dedicated solely to the service of Hashem and His Torah. presents Rabbi Hershel Reichman teaching about this week’s parsha, Parshat Re’eh

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