This article on the portion of the week was originally published in 2017.
To show love to another human being is to show them the face of the Divine.
Love is what we are made of. It is the definitive quality of the Creator, and so too is it the essence of our souls.
I have to be honest. Many years ago, when I first came to read Vayakhel-Pekudei, I found these chapters to be the least interesting of all the Bible. Yet, with the help of the Zohar and of the commentary of the great kabbalists, I came to better appreciate these stories and their meaning. Consequently, this week’s lesson has become perhaps one of my absolute favorites.
"Love is what we are made of. It is the essence of our souls."
God instructs Moses, “Build unto me a Tabernacle, so that I may dwell within you.” Vayekhel and Pekudei both discuss the many details that went into the building of the Tabernacle, and all that was necessary for this construct to be a place where the Light of the Creator could dwell. There are many coded messages within the instructions God gives Moses, the dimensions of the Tabernacle, and how it is to be manifested. But the most interesting is that there are 13 different materials used to create this place.
We learn in the study of Kabbalah that the number 13 is a meaningful one. For it is the numerical value of the word: Love.
Of course we do not have a physical Tabernacle today, and so it is up to each of us to establish a place the Creator can dwell within ourselves. How do we generate such a space? The numerology provides us the answer. The Tabernacle now, as it was then, is to be created with love.
To share an act of love with another does not require that it be romantic. We can show acts of love to friends, co-workers, family members, even perfect strangers. When we look for the good in someone instead of the bad, this is an act of love. When we lend a hand to a stranger in need, this too is love manifest. Any moment in which we use our free will to extend ourselves to another being is indeed one that constitutes this sentiment. It is within these divine expressions that we create a space within us too for the Creator to dwell.
Notice that the Creator does not say, “Build unto me a Tabernacle, so that I can dwell among you,” but “so that I can dwell within you.” The intent was always for the Creator to dwell inside each of us. When we choose love in its many forms, we emulate the Creator’s ways, thereby constructing our own inner Tabernacle.
"When there is love between people, God’s Light shines brightly in the entire world."
One of the things I find most interesting about love is that there is an infinite supply of it within each of us, and yet such a lack of it within the world. This week, let’s fill the world with love by showing it at every opportunity. There are countless ways! Instead of simply texting a friend, pick up the phone to ask how they are doing and tell them how much you care. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter, or at your church of choice. Bake a pie for your neighbor. Write a love letter to your spouse or your loved one. Really listen to others. Most importantly, let’s simply be there for each other.
As 13 is the numerical value of love, we know that when two people act in love towards one another, we get the number 26 – which is the numerical value of YKVH, the Tetragrammaton, the most powerful name of God.
When there is love between people, God’s Light dwells not just within ourselves, but shines brightly in the entire world.