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The Systems of the Jewish Year

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By Rabbi Sender Haber

A few years ago, I worked with my star student Michael on his Bar Mitzva speech for parshas Pikudei.  He did a great job. Michael was talking about himself, but I think that the Bar Mitzvah boy inside each one of us can relate:

This morning, I read to you about the Mishkan that the Jews built in the desert. The Mishkan was a structure dedicated to Hashem. In it, the people could serve Hashem with no distractions at all. Nobody lived in the Mishkan. They all had lives. But they knew that the Mishkan was there for them when they needed somewhere quiet and holy to go.

I have learned from my parents and teachers that Hashem does not demand that we concentrate on only Him 24/7. As long as we are following the Torah, Hashem encourages us to live our lives and have fun as we become productive members of society. On the other hand, I have learned that we cannot spend our whole life running around and living for others. We need to take time out to concentrate on ourselves and our relationship with G-d. The Jewish camp in the desert was enormous, but it could not be complete without the sacrosanct structure of the Mishkan where everything could be forgotten and our souls could be nourished.

As I grow up, I’ve come to realize that life can get very complicated and very busy. Years ago, life was simpler: I would wake up, cry, eat, and get my diaper changed. Now I need to split my time between Shacharis, school, sports, sleeping, eating, learning and beating up my brother.

I have come to appreciate the value of taking “time out” to evaluate and appreciate everything that I have in my life. I have come to realize how important it is to set aside time to talk to Hashem.

Even professional athletes cannot spend all of their time on the court. In the average Basketball game things can get pretty heated up. People get hyper, pressured and sometimes discouraged. Every once in a while it is important for them to huddle together or take some time off on the bench or in the dugout. There is nothing wrong with getting excited, but everyone needs a place where they can cool down and refocus.

Of course there is a big difference between a Dugout and a Mishkan, but the concept of space and time is the same. Every Shul is a Mikdash Me’at, a mini-sanctuary where we can pause and let time stand still as we communicate with G-d.

I am privileged that I have been brought up in a community where I have been taught how and where to come and connect with Hashem.

Thank You.

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