In Parshat Terumah, Hashem instructs Moshe to launch the first ever capital campaign to build the first version of what would ultimately be the Temple. This portable edifice, known as the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, would be the center of spiritual service and serve as the tool to bring Hashem's presence into the world. The Torah portion goes on to explain the many facets of the furniture and structure of the Mishkan, detail by detail, including its materials, dimensions and colors.
Now for those who are interested in interior decoration, you might find the Torah portion fascinating. But the average student of Torah wonders how, after all of the excitement and adventure of the previous Torah portions, this detailed description of the Mishkan can be relevant to us. What can we learn from all this?
When we take a deeper look at the essence of the Mishkan we realize that in fact, the Mishkan is not only teaching us important lessons about self growth, it is a mirror image of the human personality, a reflection of our Neshama. The Mishkan was given to us as a tool to connect and to allow us to experience the spirituality that really lies in the heart of every single one of us. "Make me a Mishkan that I may dwell among them". For this reason, a close look at the structure of the Temple reveals that it is actually a model of the structure of Man himself.
The mystical texts teach us that Man contains within him the three levels of spiritual energies known as Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshama, each corresponding to the three faculties of man: actions, emotions, and thoughts. The lowest level, the Nefesh, adds spiritual potential to the physical actions that we do and our physical drives. Next is the level of Ruach, which fuses our emotions with spirituality. The highest level, the Neshama, allows us to transcend our material selves and actually grasp a sense of attachment to the Almighty. In the physical makeup of man, these three faculties correspond to the stomach, the heart and the brain.
This brings us to an amazing understanding of the blueprint of the Mishkan. The three sections of the Mishkan, the Courtyard, Sanctuary and Holy of Holies were meant to parallel the 3 faculties of man. The Sacrifices brought in the Courtyard were meant to inspire us to elevate our animalistic tendencies to run after physical pleasure, and to channel all of our pleasure to bring us closer to Hashem. The Lights of the Menorah in the Sanctuary represented the fire that is in each one of our hearts. We can light up all of our emotions to yearn with passion for a loving connection with the Almighty. Finally, in the Holy of Holies the Almighty’s presence rested upon the Ark in a way that was beyond the capacity of the physical world, teaching us that every Jew can taste transcendence even in this world, in this body, if he is willing to quiet down his pull towards the material and focus on the deeper essence of reality.