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Parshat Terumah 5773 Drasha Rabbi Shaanan Gelman The Very First Kiddush Club When was the

e very first Kiddush club instituted? Was it 20 or 30 years ago in some shtieble in Brooklyn? Was it first conceived by a gruff bunch of congregants who felt that the maftir and drasha were not as important as a piece of kichel and a lchayim? What led to this strange phenomenon which now exists in almost every synagogue across the country? I would like to submit that the origins of the Kiddush club go back long before the very first Young Israel was but a dream, approximately 3,400 years ago in the Sinai Desert. The Bnei Yisrael have just left the awesome experience of Kabalat haTorah and are now instructed to build a Mishkan: ( ) :

From the sound of things it would seem that the obligation is to create a house separate and aloof from the world of the material, after all, it is intended as a house of God, who is incorporeal in nature. But when we look at the types of structures which are built as part of this Sanctuary it would appear as if this house is designed, not for God, but rather for a human being. The Mishkan contains a Shulchan, a table for bread, a Mizbeach, stocked with ample supplies of meat and wine. God does not require food, nor drink. There is a Menorah, to provide light, something which the Kadosh Baruch Hu does not need. In addition, there is a wash basin, and since God has no body, and never is impure, He doesnt need to wash his hands or feet. There is the existence as well of the ( or ) from which the pleasing aroma of incense emanates, though clearly God does not need to smell any nice fragrances, lovely as they may be. This past week, there was a clip circulating of Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida and his response to the Presidents State of the Union Address, as he took an
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awkward swig of water from a bottle of Poland Spring during his talk. Many felt that someone who is considered a hopeful for the White House isnt supposed show signs of thirst, ( all the more so), Hashem, isnt expected to coddle Himself in the physical amenities of us mortal men. In our homes though, we do require a table and a stove, meat and wine, a sink and nice flowers to give off a pleasing smell. And we want proper lighting, which on Shabbos is expressed through the . In the Temple the Priests wear fancy clothing and the Leviim sing and play instruments, all of which would fit in nicely at the most upscale dinner party and black tie affair. And so, despite our expectations, the Mishkan, the most anticipated vessel of Kedusha in history, looks more like a social gathering of revelry and good times than it does a House of God. If this is the impression we get when it comes to the , it is understandable that we have a similar notion when it comes to the , the Synagogue. Last Shabbos, the Wall Street Journal Article which everyone is buzzing about ran with the tagline:
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After These Jewish Prayer Services, Things Come 'To Life' at Open Bar To Woo Worshippers, Synagogues Compete With Food and Booze; Hosting in the Hamptons http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014241278873234857 04578258350111321138.html The article was embarrassing and was a Chilul Hashem of the highest order, but not because it purported lies or exaggerated things, rather because it told the truth. True, not every shul puts out as an elaborate a spread as is described in the article, or has such a focus on the alcohol, but for the most part, American Jewry has learned to draw in the crowds with the Kiddush. And even the tzadikim who decry the use of alcohol in their shuls are guilty of attracting congregants with meat and herring, all while conducting fashion shows featuring the designer dresses, shoes and hats. But before we can point an accusing finger, we have to ask is this not what is modeled for us in the Mishkan?! Isnt it true that the House of God comes with a fully

stocked bar, carving table, designer clothing and fancy perfumes? I would like to suggest that it is not the fact that we provide fancy food, drink and social interaction that detracts from the holiness of our synagogues, quite the contrary; it is an integral part of the design! The Mishkan, and Beit Knesset, is the epicenter for Jewish social life as well as religious life. It is a place to exchange pleasantries and enjoy life together as a community. But there is one caveat to all the fun and games and that is the ,the Ark which contains the Luchot (the Tablets of the Covenant), which serves as the focal point of the Jewish epicenter. We eat, we drink and we socialize, but we do so ever with our eye on the prize or in the words of our holy Torah we rejoice, but .' All of our activities must be weighed carefully with one criterion alone: is my simcha in front of God? Do I experience this joy with the knowledge that He is present in this room or do I wish that He wasnt?

Rav Moshe Wolfson, in his work takes note of a peculiarity in the laws of the construction of the Tabernacle. The Torah tells us that when it comes to the ,we are to construct ,poles which are used to support the Ark when transferring it from one location to another. Yet strangely, when the comes to rest, the poles are to remain in their sockets, never to be removed: :) ( ) ( :) ( :)( Rav Wolfson asks - why is it that the are made to be removable if one is intended to keep them attached at all times? Furthermore, why are we commanded to leave the poles in their sockets in the first place? This is particularly strange when one considers the fact that when it comes to the Shulchan, the Table, there is no such commandment, though we are instructed to make poles for transporting the :
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() :

We understand this well, because it is simply not logical to leave the in the Shulchan for one second longer than the time needed to transport it; after all, we dont keep the moving truck in the driveway, the furniture dolly under the bookcases, or the moving blankets and bubblewrap around the living room ottoman! Perhaps the distinction is as follows: the Shulchan is a table, it is a functional item used for food, it is an object which serves man in the most practical and physical manner. The however, is the only object in the Mishkan which has no part whatsoever which is physical in nature. Its purpose is ethereal, its function is mysterious, and its dimensions even defy nature. The is the one object in the Mishkan which keeps man focused on something more exalted than the single malt whiskey. By prohibiting us from removing the beams, the implication is that this particular object is of utmost importance, and that all of the other are merely a means to that end.
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But why then are they not permanent altogether? Perhaps here the lesson is that Gods presence, the Shechina is not a fixed matter, it is transient, it travels with us wherever we go, and that transience is an essential element of the Mishkan. We find God in the mundane, we find God in the physical, we even find God in the elaborate and fancy Kiddush. God is not confined to a box, Holiness is not relegated to some locked tower. Rather, it is attainable, and it is portable. It travels with us, to our smachot, to our dining room table and into our moments of leisure and celebration. We dont believe that spirituality is found in a monastery; rather it is found in the Tent of Abraham and Sarah, a place in which food is served, feet are rinsed and the weary can rest. Let us remember that the are the permanent temporary fixtures. They represent the remoteness of the Almighty, as well as His approachability. We have to walk that tight rope, the fine line between God is amongst us and God is beyond us.

Because Jewish life ought to be lavish just not ostentatious, it should be fun, but never distasteful, and it should be engaging, but never a amusing, and it should be regal but not vulgar. As we approach the holiday of Purim, a holiday so riddled with elements of physical indulgence, let us keep this careful balancing act in mind. Dr. David Pelcovitz recently commented regarding Purim what is the difference between Simcha and (foolishness)? The difference is How do you feel about yourself the next morning? If you are proud, you have constructed a , if you are ashamed, you have created a chillul Hashem. May we merit to encounter and to engage the mysterious and ever-present, permanent yet transient Shechina in all of our endeavors.