This article was previously published in 2020.
In the portion of Terumah, there is the discussion of the building of the Tabernacle, which was later replaced by the Temple Mount in Israel; that location, therefore, is the energy center for the entire world. The most important room in the Tabernacle, the most important room in the Temple, and therefore, the most important room in the world, is called the Kodesh HaKodeshim, the Holy of Holies, and it houses the Aron, the Ark. Inside the Ark are the Tablets upon which the Ten Utterances were written, as well as the broken parts of the first Tablets. The Maharal says that the Ark is called “Aron” because it comes from the Hebrew word “or,” which is Light; all the Light that comes into this world comes from there.
“All the Light that comes into this world comes from there…”
The kabbalists teach that in the Tabernacle, in the Temple, there was a specific measurement for the Kodesh HaKodeshim, the Holy of Holies. It was 20 amot by 20 amot, which is approximately 20 yards by 20 yards, and the Ark was in the middle of the Kodesh HaKodeshim. So, imagine a square of 20 by 20, which means the distance from any side to the next would be 20 up and 20 down. However, from the Ark to one wall measured 10 amot, from the other side to the wall measured 10, from the top to the wall measured 10, and from the bottom to the wall measured 10… but this is geometrically impossible, right? You cannot have a space taken up in the middle, and have the measurement of 10 to each side, if the entire room is only 20 by 20!
So, the kabbalists say an amazing thing: the Ark did not take up space. In spiritual matters, we learn that there is no time, space, or motion, but do we really believe that? Is it really even a possibility in our minds? Can we imagine standing in the Holy of Holies knowing that what we are looking at does not actually exist in the space where we are looking?
In Kings, it speaks about the building of the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, and about the room we are connecting to on Shabbat Terumah, the Holy of Holies, which housed the Ark. The Ark had poles used to carry it; the poles were longer than the room, and the tips of the poles were visible through the fabric that covered the Holy of Holies. The kabbalists explain the reason the poles were bulging out is because they are the channels— literally, the antennae — through which the Light of this world flows. So, even though we know that the High Priest was the only person who entered into the Holy of Holies, and only once a year, the Holy of Holies is the generator of all the Light that comes to our world. Therefore, the poles were longer than the room to show us that even though we can’t enter into the Holy of Holies, these poles, these antennae, are spewing the Light of the Creator forth into this world.
That’s what it says in the first part of the verse that speaks about the Holy of Holies, the Ark, and the poles. The purpose of the poles was not to carry the Ark. Why? Because the Ark did not need carrying; it flew on its own. The poles were there as conduits, as channels, and it was important that although a person was not able to see into the Holy of Holies, he was able to see the poles sticking out. Because that was how to make a connection to the conduits of that Light into this world.
However, that’s not the important part of the verse. It tells us that the Ark and the poles are there until this day, but the Temple was destroyed, and there is another structure there now; if we went there today, we wouldn’t see anything. So, what does it mean they were there until this day?
What it means, we’ve all heard before. But none of us has ever really understood it, or more importantly, tried to live it. We talk about the illusion of this world, which surrounds us and is all-consuming, and we buy into it; even if we’re inspired for one second to know this is all an illusion, the next moment we’re drawn back into this world. If we are honest with ourselves, how many of us ever really think that there are other things in everything we are experiencing and seeing?
It’s not just, as my father Rav Berg always made clear, that something is going to happen, that somebody’s going to come, somebody’s going to announce a change; we have to come to that change in consciousness. And therefore, it says in Kings that the Ark is there today, the entire structure is there today, and if we did not have eyes that were so consumed and taken in by the illusion of this physical world, we could see it. Most of us are only getting, as the kabbalists called it, a little sliver of Light. We are not truly connected to the Ark because we cannot see the Ark sitting there. Our eyes are only viewing this world.
How do we change it? It’s very simple.
Today, most of us have something that bothers us, big or small. When that happens, we need to take a moment to tell ourselves: This is not true. This is all an illusion. And, sure, it’s easy to speak about in philosophical and spiritual terms; we hear lessons, and we can repeat them. But in living it, if we know that 99.9% of what we are seeing is false, how can we be upset about it? If we’re not able in those times when we see things happening that upset us, to say, “This is all an illusion,” then we haven’t begun the process of achieving the ability to see the truth.
Maybe we’re not able to do this 100% of the time, so we can start with 30% of the time. It’s a daily fight; when we see something happening, we need to fight to say, “This is not real. This is all an illusion.” Maybe we fought it four times in a day and lost six, but if we keep staying in there, we start winning the battle. We have spent our whole lives until now buying into the illusion of this world, and it can’t be broken in a day simply by hearing a lecture or reading about it; we have to live it. And Shabbat Terumah is about beginning to understand that we need to do the actions that break us away.
“The Ark is there today, and that Ark is sending out all the Light we need…”
The Ark is there today, and that Ark is sending out all the Light we need, and all the Light that is needed to end pain, and suffering, and death in this world. All that Light is there, and what we can come to understand on Shabbat Terumah, therefore, is that unless we begin the process of changing our consciousness in this way, we cannot connect to the true source of Light that is this world.
We can’t stay bought-in completely to the illusion of this world as we are today, and think that because of all the spiritual work we’ve done, and are doing, we will connect to the End of the Correction. It is impossible, because, as we now understand, the End of the Correction already exists; it exists here and now… we just don’t see it. But we have to get to the place of being able to. How do we do that? By shifting our consciousness completely from the illusion of this world. And it starts by fighting – fighting five out of ten, six out of ten times, because when we shift that consciousness, we come to the End of the Correction. It’s there, waiting for us to reveal it by breaking away from the illusion of this world. And on Shabbat Terumah, we can truly begin to do so.