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Tetzavah: Building a Home for Hashem

ואתה הקרב אליך את אהרן אחיך וגו' לכהנו לי וגו'.

“And you shall bring close to you Aharon your brother… to serve Me…” (Shemos 28:1)

In this week’s sidra the Torah discusses the construction of the Mishkan, the Sanctuary of the wilderness. When the Mishkan was first constructed, Moshe served as High Priest for seven days and then he gave over this special role to his brother Aharon. About this first week it says: “And you shall do so for Aharon and his sons according to everything that I commanded you; for seven days you shall fill up their hands.” (Shemos 29:35)

In this week’s haftorah we read about the future Bais Hamikdosh as envisioned by Yechezkel. “And you, son of man, tell the house of Israel about the [future] Bais Hamikdash, and they shall be ashamed of their sins, and they shall measure the space for the House [BaisHamikdash]. And if they will be ashamed of everything they did, then the shape of the House and the measurements, etc. …This is the law of the House on the head of the mountain; all of the boundaries around it are holy of holies…” (Yechezkel 43:10-11-12)

It is difficult to understand the flow of these verses. Why does Scripture speak about the people being ashamed of their sins while discussing the measurements of the Bais Hamikdash?

We can understand these verses as follows: The Avnei Nezer once said that Moshe Rabbeinu was like the head – the brain - of the Jewish people, and Aharon was like the heart of the Jewish people. Let us now explore the relationship between the brain and the heart. The brain contains wisdom and intellect while the heart contains all feelings and emotions. The person’s brain must be in control of his heart. When a person is angry at his neighbor, then if he would allow his emotions to control him he may harm or even kill his neighbor, G-d forbid. The brain – the person’s logic and intellect – must keep his emotions in check and prevent him from acting on his emotions without thinking.

Inside the heart, Hashem placed the seven middos (attributes) of love, fear, etc. The brain must control these attributes so that the person should use them properly. He must use the middah of ahava – love – to love only what the Torah allows. He should love Hashem, he should love his fellow man, and so forth. He should not use this emotion towards forbidden pleasures. So too with the middah of yirah – fear. The person should fear Hashem, fear his teachers, fear his parents, but he shall not be afraid to do the right thing. The same applies to all middos; a person must use these attributes properly in order to become elevated and serve Hashem with his entire being.

This can only happen if the brain is in control of the emotions, because if the heart leads the person, then it may easily lead the person to forbidden desires. If the heart is in control, then by the time the brain comes into the picture it will only be used as a tool to serve the heart’s desires by planning how to achieve these desires or applying twisted logic to legitimize these pursuits.

This is what the verse is telling us by commanding Moshe: “And you shall bring close to you Aharon your brother... to serve Me.” Moshe, who is the brain, must be in charge and bring close the heart. If the brain is in control of the heart, then all is well, and you can “serve Me.” But if it is the other way around and the brain follows the heart, then the person ends up serving his evil inclination.

This principle is especially important when a newly-married couple establishes their home. Their new Jewish home must be built on a strong foundation. In order for them to be able to build their home on solid ground, Hashem in His great mercy gives the couple a very special gift. The Chasan and Kallah’s sins are forgiven on the day of their wedding. They are completely purified of all sins, to enable them to establish their new home on a strong, pure foundation. From that day onward, they must work to maintain the purity of their new home by ensuring that their brains are in charge of their desires.

When the verse describes the future Bais Hamikdash, the House of Hashem, there is mention of being ashamed of sin. “If they will be ashamed of everything they did, then the shape of the House and the measurements, etc.” If they – the new couple - will do proper tshuva on their past sins, then they will be able to build a house for Hashem. “…This is the law of the House on the head of the mountain.” How can they accomplish this task of building a house for Hashem? If they remember to build the house on the “head” of the “mountain.” The yetzer hara is called a mountain. They must ensure that their head, their intellect, is on top of the yetzer hara which tries to influence them through their emotions. “All of its boundaries around it are holy of holies.” The young couple must set boundaries for themselves. Some people think that after they are married they may do whatever they desire, G-d forbid, but the verse is reminding us that boundaries must be set so that the new home should be holy.

This is why the Chosson and Kallah have seven days of festivities after their wedding, so that they can perfect the seven middos during these days. They should ensure that their middos are under the control of their intellect.

The Torah says about the seven days of consecrating the Mishkan: “And you shall do so for Aharon and his sons according to everything I commanded you; for seven days you shall fill up their hands.” The seven days following a wedding are like these seven days mentioned in the Torah. During these seven days the new couple must “fill up their hands” with good deeds. If they will do so, then Hashem’s holy presence will rest on their new home, just as it rested on the Sanctuary in the wilderness. The new couple will merit many blessings, and will live in joy and happiness, with blessed children and many other wonderful berachos.

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