Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
In reading this week's Parasha Peqoudeh, we complete the reading of Sefer Shemot. The Ramban calls this sefer "Sefer HaGeoulah" – the "Book of Redemption" for throughout the book, Hashem chooses the Jewish nation as His nation and redeems the nation from the grips of its enemies. May we merit a season of redemptions from Hashem. Amen.
At the end of this week's Parasha, we read about the completion of the Mishkan (Tabernacle):
"Then the cloud covered the Mishkan, and the glory of the Hashem filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 40:34)
Similarly, when Shelomo the King completed the building first Temple, we read:
"When the kohanim withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of Hashem. 11 And the kohanim could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of Hashem filled his temple." (Kings 1: 8:10-11)
With a careful reading of these verses we see that there are two references to essence of Hashem; first, the "anan" or cloud of Hashem and second, the "kavod" or "glory" of Hashem. What is the difference between them? The Malbim explains that the cloud of Hashem is a physical cloud/fog that indicates the presence of Hashem, while the "glory" is the light of Hashem.
In the verse in this week's Parasha, we see that the cloud was covering the Mishkan, meaning that the cloud was outside the physical building. The glory of Hashem, however, was inside the Mishkan. However, we read in the building of the Temple that both the cloud and glory of Hashem dwelled inside the building.
The Malbim explains that the permanent residence of the Temple allowed for both aspects of the essence of Hashem to reside inside. However, the Mishkan traveled with the nation and did not have a permanent station. Therefore, says the Malbim, only the glory of Hashem could dwell inside the building, while the cloud of Hashem was outside.
In trying to understand the message the Malbim is trying to teach us, we can explore a concept learned in Masechet Bessah. There the Gemara tells us that the laws of Mouq'seh on Yom Tob are stricter because the laws of day are more lenient than the laws of Shabbat. In the same vain, we can say that the Mishkan, being more "lenient" in holiness than the Temple, required the cloud of Hashem to reside outside as a buffer of sorts to sanctify the building. The temple, however, was set in its location and "strict" in holiness and thusly both the cloud and the glory of Hashem dwelled inside the building.
Today, all of our synagogues are temporary "Mishkans" in the Diaspora. We must always remember, consequentially, that the spirit of Hashem dwells on the outside of these buildings. We must be as careful in our demeanor going into the Bet Kinesset as we are when we are inside.
With the merit of understanding the holiness of our places of worship, may we experience a full redemption Bimhera Beyamenou.