Archive for February, 2011

Over the past week the Hebrew word mishkan has come into my life from various directions; coupled with messages on the seven gates to one’s neshama. Below is an article reflecting my meditations on all of this through out the week.

The Hebrew word mishkan means a dwelling place or residence.

On Tuesday my wife and I went down to a class at the Orthodox synagogue in Chattanooga. They are going through a series ‘Toward a Meaningful Life’. The subject that evening was on House vs Home. It was a great class but it was the last section of the lesson that really stuck with me.

“And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8

When we look at this passage we see here that G-d tells Israel to build a Mishkan for Him but He in turns tells us that it for Him to dwell among them. The passage should have said so that He would dwell in it.

This paints a wonderful picture of the intentions of HaShem. He wants to live with us; we can now take a deeper look into what He is saying.

The point is, we are to build a home for HaShem – our home is to be His so that He may dwell among us.

Today as I ponder this I meditated on the Mishkan in the wilderness and I took note of something I had not really put into much thought in the past.

The furnishings of the Mishkan were simple and each item had a purpose and place – there was no clutter of a bunch of material possessions scattered all over. This thought took me to another from a teaching from Rebbe Nachman of Breslev on the Seven Gates.

Not only is our home to become a mishkan for HaShem but our bodies as well are to become a mishkan. The body was created to house the soul and to better understand what I am about to explain it is best to have some understanding of the soul. Within the Hebrew Scriptures we are shown that the soul has three areas or parts.

Nefesh: this word is translated as soul and sometimes as spirit. This part of the soul is our animal part and is connected to our hands and feet. It is reflected by our deeds.

Ruach: this word is translated as wind, breath, spirit. It is connected to our lungs and is reflected in the words we use – our speech.

Neshamah: this word is translated spirit or soul. This part of our soul is found in our brain, connected to our mind and is reflected by our thoughts. Kabbalah teaches us that the neshamah is, “the soul’s ability to perceive directly God’s presence in the world and to sense the Divine breath of life entering his being.”

Solomon gives us some insight on the neshama,

“A man’s soul is the lamp of HaShem, which searches the chambers of one’s innards.” Proverbs 20:27

Through the seven gates HaShem can see what is entering and exiting our being.

The seven gates to the neshamah are; the 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2, nostrils, 1 mouth. These gates left unprotected will cause damage to our neshamah. They also if not protected will cause HaShem to withdraw from the mishkan that is within us.

In making a mishkan for HaShem we need to clean up the gateways to our neshamah, for as our neshamah will be, so will be our home were we live. We must strive to bring our eyes, ears, nose and mouth to holiness. In essence, our home is a reflection of our neshamah and visa versa.

We need to be honest with ourselves and ask a question about the things in our home; if they were placed in the Mishkan of the wilderness would they defile it? What kind of magazines, books or music do we have? One of the hard ones for many of us is the TV and so on. Using the Mishkan as our guide we will slowly begin to clean up the trash that we have cluttered our gates with.

With HaShem’s help we will transform the physical dwellings of our bodies and houses into a lofty Mishkan for our G-d to dwell in.

Terry W. Hayes

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