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Shemini: Praying With A Purpose

ומפתח אוהל מועד לא תצאו...

“And from the door of the Sanctuary you shall not leave…” (Vayikra 10:7)

Moshe said to Aharon and his sons not to leave the Sanctuary and continue performing the Services.

In this week’s Haftorah, the Navi says in the name of Hashem (Shmuel II 7:7): “Everywhere that I went along with the Jewish people, did I ever tell them… and have I ever said: ‘Why didn’t you build for Me a house made from cedar trees?’”

For centuries, Hashem rested among the Jewish people in the Tabernacle, a tent-like structure that always followed the nation along its travels. Hashem did not want them to build a permanent Sanctuary until they would have complete peace from all of their enemies. If so, why does Hashem point out that He never asked them to build a permanent Sanctuary? After all, the Jews were not required to build the Sanctuary yet.

However, the Navi’s words contain a rebuke for the Jewish people, that their prayers for peace lacked the proper motive. During all of their wars, they never prayed for peace in order to be able to finally build Hashem’s Sanctuary. They desired peace for their own benefit, and this was held against them. The Navi demanded of them: “Why didn’t it bother you that Hashem doesn’t yet have a permanent home? Why didn’t you pray for peace in order to be able to erect the Bais Hamikdosh? Why didn’t you lose sleep over the fact that Hashem’s holy Presence rested in a temporary tent? True, you cannot be blamed for not building the Bais Hamikdosh yet, because you weren’t at peace, but why didn’t you pray and yearn for the opportunity?”

We see from this that our intentions are what matter most. Even though the Jewish people could not yet build the Sanctuary, and they were not required to do so, they should have prayed for the opportunity and waited for the day when they would finally be able to build a proper house for Hashem.

The same is true about us. We all face difficulties in life, and not always can we do something about it. We turn to Hashem in prayer and beg for serenity, for prosperity and good health. We beg for children and a long life. We must examine our intentions: why are we praying for this? Why do we desire peace and serenity? Why do we want life and children? Is it because we want to enjoy the good life, or is it because we want to be able to serve Hashem properly? If we would pray for these blessings with the sincere intention of serving Hashem properly, the requested brachos would come sooner.

“And from the door of the Sanctuary you shall not leave…” The Sanctuary of the Tabernacle was like the door that opened a connection with Hashem, but we should not leave it at that. Our goal should be to build a Sanctuary made from cedar trees and marble! We should strive to glorify Hashem’s Name throughout the world in any way we can.

This Shabbos is called “Shlissel (key) Shabbos” because it has the potential to open up locked gates. If we will pray for Hashem’s blessing with the intention of serving Him with all that goodness, then all of the gates will be opened for us and we will indeed be able to turn our homes into peaceful and blessed Sanctuaries for Hashem, Amein.

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