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Two Minutes of Torah: Pekudei - Making Space

In the Kabbalistic story of creation there is a need for God to withdraw from Godself in a process known as tzimtzum.  To make space for the world to actually be created this story imagines that God fills everything and needs to retract in some way to allow us to have space for our existence.  It's an interesting idea for the way that we relate to other people and the way that we interact with others.  We've all had experience of those people whose personalities are so big that they seem to take up all the space and all of the air in a room; and while that can be nice for a few moments, invariably it means that everyone else suffers.  Everyone else feels that lack of space to be themselves in the midst of someone taking up all of the space. 

In this week's Torah portion we gain a perspective on the importance of making space for others in order to help everyone fulfill their potential.  We read that Moses finished the work of the Tabernacle and then: “the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of Adonai filled the Tabernacle.  Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled upon it and the Presence of Adonai filled the Tabernacle.  When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, on their various journeys; but if the cloud did not lift, they would not set out until such time as it did lift” (Ex. 40:34-37).

In this way when God’s presence came to rest upon the Tabernacle God filled up all of the space, and that's hardly surprising.  But with God taking up all the space it was impossible for the Israelites to continue on their journey; only when God lifted the cloud, hovering above the Tabernacle, were the Israelites able to move forward. 

In that situation God once again made the necessary space for the Israelites to continue on their journey.  God lifted and allowed the people to once again be God's partners moving forward into the wilderness and towards the Promised Land.  It must have been a powerful image for the people to look at the Tabernacle in the center of the camp and to see that when it was filled with a cloud they stopped.  But when the cloud was above, beckoning them, calling on them, then they were able to move forward on their journey. 

If God was able to make space for the world to be created, and if God was able to make space for the Israelites to continue on their journey into the wilderness; how much the more so should we be conscious in our own lives of making space for those around us.  We can make the space to allow others to flourish with us, rather than stifling them.

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