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.
SarahÂ’s Tent: The Original Mishkan
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011 12:40:47 PM
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Sarah was the classic Jewish mother and one of the seven prophetesses quoted in 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, a Sabbath lamp that remained lit all week long. These miracles were not Abraham’s doing; they all ceased with Sarah’s death.
 
There was a special significance in these blessings. 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, the same Presence which  rested on the Mishkan. Only one other human being had a comparable sign of holiness hovering over his private residence:Moses (Exodus 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 her 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 they remained as warm and  fresh as they were when they  were first set on the sacred Table. The Sages teach that the 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 blessing in Sarah’s dough was a spiritual one, 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. Of course when one deserts the world of the spirit and plunges into the material here and now, his earlier achievements and attainments become diminished, for 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. Sarah’s Sabbath candles ushered in a day of contentment and holiness, יום מנוחה וקדושה, G-d’s precious gift to Israels so do our Sabbath flames. 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 did. Her Sabbath lamp, like the western lamp of the Menorah, endured and shed a 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 enhancingit.
 
 
Thus the heavenly cloud that hovered over her tent – like that which adorned the Temple – 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 Menorah, G-d set his cloud atop her dwelling, demonstrating that every Jewish home can become a miniature Holy Temple.

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