Do you mind if I Tabernacle here a while?


Parashat Terumah 5773

One of the most valuable lessons I learned at the Yale Divinity School is that the English word “tabernacle” is an archaic form meaning “to dwell”… it is an exact translation of the Hebrew “mishkan” or dwelling place; hence the use of the word Tabernacle to describe the structure built by the Israelites for worship in the desert. The word gives a clue to the point of the whole enterprise. If you want God to dwell amongst you, you got to make the space available.

But who does that? Unless you are one of the few who attends worship or study on a regular basis in your synagogue, church or mosque, most of us crowd what little space we have in our lives with more work, more car-pooling, more entertainment, more activities designed to keep us active and moving, but leaving little open space for much more. Truthfully, how much empty real estate do we have left when we have filled very moment with something else?   You really going to shove one more thing in that already crowded space?  Then we wonder-why don’t we seem to get more meaning out of life- and when you turn your disappointment against your church or synagogue (I don’t get anything out of it-so why bother) few of us clergy types have the guts to answer you-hey-you got any room left?

The lesson of the Torah portion for this week, sisters and brothers,  is that if you seek God or seek spirituality, or seek meaning-you gotta make the room.


2 thoughts on “Do you mind if I Tabernacle here a while?

  1. Yes. And, who shops in a store with the same choices year after year after decade?

    Many congregations have recognized this and have adapted to generational shifts, musical stylings, and the reality of 21st century lifestyles. While I mostly agree that members (ours/yours) would feel differently about the Temple as a whole if they took it as seriously as travel soccer, the Temple and it’s leadership, lay and clergy,have the responsibility to deliver the best “product” possible.

    Unfortunately, most members maintain a “consumer” relationship with their shul, and always want to know if it’s worth the price.

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