Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Sarah’s Home - The ORIGINAL Mikdash!
Published: Tuesday, October 29, 2019 08:16:55 AM
Number of views: 1431

“They shall make for Me a MIKDASH and I will dwell in THEM.” (Shemot 25:8) The Ramban explains that Hashem is asking each of us to build for Him a replica of our Mother Sarah’s Home.

Sarah was the classic Jewish mother and one of the seven prophetesses named in Holy Scripture. Her home was no ordinary tent. It had extraordinary qualities: a cloud of holiness, doors which symbolically proclaimed their openness to all passersby, a blessing in her dough, and a Sabbath lamp that remained lit all week long. These miracles were NOT in Abraham’s merit, because they all ceased with Sarah’s death. Rashi informs us that Sarah was an even greater prophet than Abraham.

There was a special significance in these blessings in Sarah’s tent. They paralleled exactly the miracles of the Mishkan in the wilderness and of the Temple in Jerusalem. The cloud represented G-d’s Own Presence, (SHECHINA) the same G‑dly Presence which rested on the Mishkan.

Only one other human being had a comparable sign of ultimate holiness hovering over his private residence - Moshe (Shemot 33:9). Sarah’s open doors symbolized the Temple which was a repository of holiness beckoning every Jew to come and draw closer to G-d through its agency.

There was a blessing in Sarah’s dough; her guests ate and then went away with lingering feelings of satisfaction that kept hunger away for a long time. In the Sanctuary of the Temple, loaves of Panim-Bread, לחם הפנים, were placed on the sacred Table every Sabbath. All week long these loaves remained miraculously as warm and fresh as they were when they were first set on the sacred Table a week earlier. The Talmud teaches that the Show-Bread of the Temple was the source of prosperity for the entire nation. Because it was blessed it never became stale, unlike material things which begin to deteriorate from the moment they come into existence. The same miraculous blessing was also found in Sarah’s dough, a blessing that protected it from the elements and helped all who ate it to absorb its holiness within themselves.

The western lamp, the נר מערבי, of the Temple Menorah burned longer than all the others. It was the first lit, and the last to go out, its flame burning bright until the moment of the next day’s lighting. This symbolized a principle of spiritual growth ‑ yesterday’s greatness need not fade away, it should become the starting point for today’s further spiritual development.

But of course, when one abandons the world of spirituality and plunges into the material here and now, his earlier spiritual achievements and attainments become diminished. Because holiness is not static, it cannot be stored away for future use. Thus Jacob, Sarah’s grandson, was shown a ladder in his prophetic dream, symbolizing that in this world we are all on a spiritual ladder, either climbing up or climbing down. No one takes a coffee break on a ladder!

Sarah’s Sabbath candles ushered in a day of contentment and holiness, יום מנוחה וקדושה, G-d’s precious gift to Israel, and so to do our own Sabbath candles.

The key question is what happens when Sabbath is over ‑ do the Sabbath flames of holiness survive the six days of banality and material striving? Sarah’s Shabbat flames did! Her Sabbath lamp, like the western lamp of the Menorah, endured and shed a spiritual glow that lit the darkness of the entire week. When the next Sabbath came, she brought new holiness into her home ‑ not replacing its predecessor, but enhancing it.

Thus G‑d’s Heavenly Cloud that hovered over Sarah’s Tent ‑ like that which adorned the MIKDASH ‑ was G‑d’s testimony to what went on within. Because G‑d’s Presence was in Sarah’s tent, on her table, and upon her Sabbath Lamps, G‑d set His SHECHINA atop her dwelling, demonstrating that every Jewish home can become a miniature Holy Temple, if we emulate our Mother Sarah.

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