While the relationship the Jewish people enjoy with Gd at this point in history is certainly intimate and significant, it wouldn’t be the same without having a home. Parshat Terumah begins a series of Parshiyot which describe the physical characteristics of the building we call the “Mishkan”, the Tabernacle. Even after the Mishkan is planned out, built, and inaugurated, many of the Parshiyot –afterwards- continue to describe, in great detail, the many services inside the Mishkan as well.
David Cameron, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, once asked the then-Chief-Rabbi, now Lord, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks the following question: Why is it, that when G-d describes the creation of the entire world- including all trees, land, water, heavens, insects, animals, and even people, it uses only one to two chapters to do so. Yet, when describing structure of one, small, portable building, the Torah devotes dozens of chapters to describe every small detail. Doesn’t that seem backwards? Shouldn’t the bigger creation take more ink and paper? To paraphrase Rabbi Sacks, he replied: when it comes to G-d creating a world for man- it’s no big deal. But for man to make a place for G-d? That’s something to talk about.
How true it is, on a micro-level, within each of our lives as well. It may seem hard for us to buy a house, work our jobs, and keep our pantries full of food. But how much more difficult is it for us to create a place for G-d? While we may find solace in the fact that we pay membership to a shul or attend Jewish events, in many ways that becomes a veil behind which we grow complacent about our religious selves. The time we devote to our physical well-being, the creation of our own “world” is certainly necessary and valuable. But what we can also learn from the Torah’s depiction of the Mishkan, is that our inner religious ‘building’ requires time and effort, too, if not more so.