Outer Shell, Inner Life


This week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, continues the description of the Israelites’ mishkan (“tabernacle”). While last week’s portion, Terumah, was primarily concerned with the exterior of the structure, this week the Israelites learn about its “interior business” – most notably the elaborate vestements of the High Priest and the various sacred implements which will be housed inside the tabernacle. There is a profoundly holistic imperative imbedded within these dual Torah portions. Together, they teach is that the external is but an empty shell without attention and care given to the critical details of what dwells within.

This lesson can be applied in a myriad of ways – as for me, I am particularly mindful of this insight as JRC prepares to spend its first Shabbat in its newly-constructed “mishkan.” While we are certainly proud of this physical structure of our new synagogue facility, we all know deep down that it will not truly become sacred space until it is filled with the spiritual life of our congregation.

This point was driven home in a powerful way this last Sunday when JRC members placed our congregation’s Torah scrolls inside our new ark for the very first time (see above). With this sacred act, it might be said that we reaffirmed our commitment to the inner life of our community.

1 thought on “Outer Shell, Inner Life

  1. Jason Loeb

    Well said Rabbi! I also feel that our move back to the beautiful new building gives us an opportunity to impart this important lesson onto our children. The idea that while having a beautiful, state-of-the-art location to call our own is wonderful, it is truly the spirit with which we bring to that space is what ultimately defines our community.


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