News From Ramaz
By Rabbi Justin Pines, MS Mashgiach Ruchani
It's time to build the Mishkan. Bnei Yisroel have heard all of the instructions, and now it is time to get to work. But Hashem calls "time-out." Wait a second. Before you lift a finger, don't forget about Shabbat.
Through Moshe, Hashem says, remember, even though you are about to build the Mishkan, you still are not permitted to do any building on Shabbat. Really? Hashem, we are building a home for you. We're not just messing around here. We are trying to do something super special. Can't we build on Shabbos? Hashem says, "no." Work 6 days, including the special work of building the Mishkan, but that 7th day, Shabbat, is Kodesh l'Hashem.
What does Kodesh l'Hashem mean? According to my teacher, Rabbi Beryl Gershenfeld, Kodesh means passionately connected. For example, the Kodesh Kedoshim is the place where we can most passionately connect to Hashem. And so, perhaps Shabbat is the time where we can most passionately connect to Hashem in this world. Hashem has given us a gift; each week, we work hard, I work hard, and I know you work hard, and we are busy. There's homework and afterschool activities and running around. But come Friday night, it's time to stop all of that and to passionately connect -- with Hashem, with family, with friends, and with community. We put away our devices; I love turning off my phone and putting it in a drawer before Shabbos. We stay in one place, we look each other in the eyes, and we share a meal together with the Shabbos candles burning. (Bonus: take a look at the words of the Ashkenazi kiddush - how does it reflect that Shabbat is not a regular mitzvah, but a gift?)
This Shabbat, like every Shabbat, Hashem has given us the opportunity to passionately connect, to see Hashem in the universe, and also to see Hashem in the people in our lives, who are all created b'Tzelem Elokim, in God's image. Let's thank Hashem for that gift and let's put it to good use.