The Great Craftsman and Father

Torah Portion: Trumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19) – the making of the Tabernacle:

“How many are your works, Lord; in wisdom You made them all” (Ps. 104: 24).

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains that the word “wisdom” here – as in the many times it occurs in the account of the making of the tabernacle – means, “precise, exact craftsmanship” (see Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed, III:54).

For some 40+ years now Physicists have been increasingly demonstrating that the creation of the Universe is extremely, mind-numbingly precise. In 1973-74 Brandon Carter, a British mathematician proposed that the universe appears “designed” for the sake of human life.

More than a century of astronomy and physics research has yielded this unexpected observation: the emergence of humans and human civilization requires physical constants, laws, and properties that fall within certain extremely narrow ranges—and this truth applies not only to the cosmos as a whole but also to the galaxy, planetary system, and the planet humans occupy.

This proposal and understanding is now called The Anthropic Principle. To state the principle more dramatically, a preponderance of physical evidence points to humanity as the central theme of the cosmos (for more on this see my 4 part series on Intelligent Design at www.circumcisedheart.info ).

But note also from Ps 104:24 the importance of order, of precision, of exactness. This Universe, with us human beings as its central focus, has been created with such incredible care.

We have also been created in the image of the Creator Himself. That is, He has instilled within us, the power to create, and to create with precision and great care as well.

So if we are to be all that we have been designed to be, we too need to align ourselves with our creative wisdom; with our ability and natural affinity for the creation of order. When we align our lives with the order and instructions (laws) of our Creator, then we separate ourselves from the creation that was not ‘made in His image’ and we in turn approach holiness (separation to God). order 2

The Almighty is Spirit and is so far above and beyond our limited minds that it is very hard to fully grasp His ‘wisdom’, His order and precision.

In describing the Tabernacle in such precise detail though and promising to dwell or live amongst the children of Israel (“They are to make me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them.” – Ex 25:8), the Almighty not only enables the Jewish people to emulate His creative precision and order in their creating of this ‘meeting place’, but he practically and dramatically aligns Himself with them.

The call to build a Tabernacle may seem very strange though, as we know that the Almighty can not be contained within this Universe; and also that He is already everywhere within this Universe as well!

In Psalm 24:1 we read “The earth is YHVH’s and the fullness thereof, …”

We also read in Isaiah 6:3 “And one called to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is YHVH of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

That is, everything is God’s and God is in everything. So how can we give Him anything and how can he dwell in a Tabernacle made with human hands?

Part of the answer to the question of everything already belonging to God, is that there is one thing that does not belong to Him, and that is the ‘fear of heaven’. The Almighty has given us the gift of free will. It is always our choice as to whether we give Him our hearts; whether we ‘circumcise’ our hearts. Whenever we give gifts to God (as per Ex 25:2), the real gift is not the object but the repentant and obedient heart that does the giving.

So the Tabernacle enabled the Jewish people to demonstrate their ‘circumcised hearts’.

May I also suggest though, that when we consider the background of these slaves in Egypt, we can imagine how they would have struggled for a great many years to accept the presence and protection of their God throughout this ordeal. Now, He has rescued them from Egypt; He has demonstrated His awesome power and bestowed great blessings upon them. But they are perhaps still reprehensive and anxious like small children. They may need much assurance and comfort.

So how can this loving Father demonstrate on a daily basis that He truly is with His people?

He can create a place amongst them, where in a physical as well as spiritual manner, the people can see and sense His presence; His protection, salvation and love. More than the daily miracle of the Manna, the glory of God emanating from the Tabernacle presents a visible and tangible reminder of His presence.

As usual, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks brings this all out most eloquently in his Torah Portion here –http://www.aish.com/tp/i/sacks/139679273.html

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God is your shadow

We all understand what a shadow is, or at least we think we do. The sun creates a shadow of us that follows us where-ever we go and mirrors exactly an outline of our form.

In Psalm 121:5, we read: YHVH is your keeper, YHVH is your shade on your right hand”

The Hebrew word (Tzilcha) normally translated as ‘shade’ though, can be translated as ‘shadow’, so we instead get: YHVH is your protection, YHVH is your shadow to your right.

The famous Jewish Rabbi, Baal Shem Tov translated it this way and argued that ‘your shadow’ means that HaShem becomes our shadow in this world.

Just as a shadow mirrors the actions of each person, HaShem’s relationship with us becomes a mirror of how we act in His world. Our ways below in this world, arouse and elicit HaShem’s response from heaven above.

Just as a shadow moves in synch with the person and never leaves him, the way we choose to conduct ourselves in the world is the way God conducts Himself with us. If we engage in acts of loving kindness, then God responds in kind, by showing us His infinite loving kindness.

Before we investigate and meditate on this incredible insight, what evidence is there that this insight has real validity?

Let is start with Adam. Consider that after Adam sins, he hears God’s voice and he and his wife hide behind a tree. Obviously, God could see Adam and knew where he was, but nevertheless, God asks ‘where are you?’. God responds here at the level that Adam is at. He moves in synch with him; He acknowledges Adam’s state of apprehension, and rather that overwhelm it with the truth of His all-knowing and all-seeing omni-presence, He acts as if He can’t see where Adam is.

This is not God being temporarily senile!

This understanding is consistent with the concept of ‘The King Who Hides’ (– see https://globaltruthinternational.com/2012/09/23/moses-and-the-king-who-hides/). It is also consistent with the famous declaration of Jeremiah 29:11-14
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.
You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,
I will be found by you, declares the LORD, …”

Note here that the Almighty’s plans await our response; that He waits for us to come to Him, to seek Him. It is only when we seek Him with our everything, that we truly and fully find Him.

Therefore, I see this foundational passage as supporting this incredible insight.

Further, we read in Song of Solomon, which is a great story of the love that the Almighty wishes to share with us: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine …”. This also hints of this reciprocity, this moving in synch.

Is this not what any great relationship is all about, where each one in the relationship is responsive to the other and reciprocates as much as possible in kind?

As a father of 4 grown children, I have always felt that once they grew up and left home, the degree of relationship I have with them is very much dependent on them, on how close and how involved with me they now want to be.

I have done my job in bringing them up and hopefully giving them the teaching (torah), skills and faith to step out with confidence and courage into the world to make their own path. And yet, I desire the relationship to continue, but no longer with me as an authority figure, but as someone there, in the background, also therefore in a sense as a shadow, willing to be there when needed either for physical or emotional support, but mostly hoping that they will turn to me for spiritual support, for help finding their way toward the Almighty, the ultimate Father. So I am ready and willing to relate in synch with them, to be their ‘shadow’.

Thus, as a father, I see myself in a similar light to the way our King and Father relates to us.

So I see much truth in this great Jewish insight. Consider then that our relationship with God is so much dependent of us, on how much we act with loving kindness in our world. Leviticus 19:18 tells us that we are to love our neighbour, if we love God. The more we show love to our fellow man, the more we are in synch with God and the greater our relationship with Him will be, because, as our love for others grows, His love for us, His blessing of us grows in synch!

The Almighty blesses all mankind; He makes the sun shine and the rain fall on all; but He also, as a loving Father, wants more.

I believe He wants a deeper and closer relationship, but it will only be as deep and as close as we allow it to be. The more we are obedient to Him and His Ways, the closer He will be to us, and the greater His blessings will become!

The depth, the breadth, the height, the width of your relationship with Abba, with your Father is dependent on you!