Our Parsha, the concluding one in the book of Exodus, begins with a detailed listing of the amounts of gold, silver, and copper that were contributed for the construction of the Tabernacle (Artscroll commentary). “These are the reckonings of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of Testimony, which were reckoned at Moshe’s bidding.” (Chapter 38, Verse 21) The Sages learn from the fact that the Torah repeats the word Tabernacle twice in the verse that it is the same Mishkan (Tabernacle) when it was built and even when it was destroyed. What does that mean? We can connect to the holiness of the Tabernacle and the Temple even when we don’t have them with us. Rebbe Noson says that we learn from this idea that Hashem gave the remedy before the illness. He commanded the Jewish people to build the Tabernacle, which contained all of the holiness of the Holy Temple. Hashem taught Moshe that the Jewish people could draw down the holiness of the future Temple also while they were travelling for forty years in the desolate wilderness. Hashem also gave a remedy for future generations, that even after the Temple would be destroyed, due to our sins, we would have the strength to draw down the holiness of the Temple through our shuls and yeshivas. The synagogue is called a מקדש מעט, a small version of the Temple. The main influence which helps us draw down the lofty holiness of the Temple into our shuls, even while we are in exile, comes from the Tabernacle. Moshe had the spiritual power to channel all of the holiness of the Temple into the Tabernacle, which was a temporary structure to be used by the Jewish people until the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. This was the main aspect of establishing the Tabernacle: to give the nation of Israel the power to bring down the holiness of the Temple into their shuls and learning centers even during the time of exile. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Chol HaMoed, 4th teaching)
Healing is something which Rebbe Nachman discusses a lot in his teachings. For example, Rebbe Nachman teaches that when a person’s lungs are complete and healthy, by way of this his trust in God is also complete. What’s the connection? He says that the main way to achieve complete trust in God is through a person’s mind, where spiritually his neshama (higher soul) resides. A person’s mind can only become clear and filled with Godly knowledge and faith when his breathing is healthy. He explains that the mind is influenced by the fluids in a person’s body, which are in turn influenced by a proper amount of breathing and healthy lungs. (Likutei Moharan, Torah 225, Part One) One the current Breslov Rabbis and teachers in Israel, Rav Yisrael Yitzhak Bezenson, printed recently a book about the spiritual power of breathing. Aside from the physical healing which a person can merit when they are breathing correctly and breathing enough, Rav Bezenson reveals through Rebbe Nachman’s teachings the amazing spiritual benefits that somebody will receive through breathing. Rebbe Nachman teaches us that through breathing we will gain bitachon (trust) in Hashem. Rav Bezenson says that most of the tensions and stress we experience in life result from a lack of trust in God. Only trust in God helps a person feel tranquility inside. Trusting in Hashem means that I believe in God’s endless power to guide and protect every one of His creations only with what is best for them, to save each person from all of their troubles, and to care about their needs at every moment. Hashem gave us the remedy to every situation of stress and pressure- breathing, taking deep breaths with the intention that Hashem is giving me this breath. He loves me, He wants me and the special gift which I have to bring to the world, He is right with me. By way of this we gain the attribute of trust. (Neshama Neshima, pages 35-36)
Learning this book about breathing and trying to practice it every day this year since the Jewish Holidays has been helping me greatly. Just as I shared recently about the powerful change which personal prayer has had on my life, I feel like this teaching about the healing powers of breathing is also helping me see positive changes in my life. Physically, I feel lighter and less tired. Emotionally too, there are of course ups and downs, but overall I find myself in many situations feeling like I’m happier and more able to be myself. I told a friend the other day who teaches workshops based on this book that now when I feel stress, fear, etc. many times I take a few deep breaths and try to slow things down. It’s becoming almost like a reflex.
In every situation of pain, uncertainty, stress, etc. if we hold tight to our faith that Hashem is right with us and take some deep breaths, we will see the remedy and good advice, we will experience the healing of trust and faith. We can find this healing is brought down through the holiness of the synagogue, through connecting to Torah learning and prayer. We can connect to the holiness of the Tabernacle right now, even in our current state of exile.
(The image is courteous of Chabad.org)