And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst

This pasuk explains everything. Avodas Hashem, the purpose of Mitzvos, our relationship with Hashem, what we try to instill in our children. In todays world we are often taught that “the inside is what counts”. We tend to look at outer and surface level things as “superficial”. Teens very often voice these sentiments: “Hashem cares more if you’re a ‘good person’ than which shoe you tie first” and the like.

The reality is, however, is that each individual knows on the inside he is quite far from where he should be, and we try (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to cover up where we are holding on the inside with superficial things.

We see here in this pasuk, the opposite idea: build a mishkan, take action, build a superficial model for Hashem to dwell in, and then he will dwell IN YOU. I often tell the boys that Judaism cares more about where your holding on the inside, your level of emunah, bitachon, yiras Hashem and ahavas Hashem, than it does about doing the right actions, following the mitzvos and halacha. Judaism is all about outside action, there is very little in comparison dedicated to the inner workings of the human being explicitly or at all in the Torah. We learn here an essential truth, it is though the outside and the seemingly superficial that we work and develop our insides. Actions speak louder than words.

This could explain why so many teens feel disconnected, frustrated, doubt, empty. They have accomplished very little in their lives, they haven’t had the chance. Without the עָשׂוּ לִי, מִקְדָשׁ there can be no וְשָׁכַנְתִי, בְתוֹכָם . That’s why many teens (hopefully) grow out of this, and its mainly a stage. Its not that they necessarily find all their answers (as we well know) but that they grow up and mature. The more they accomplish and experience the more they learn about themselves and the world, the more they fill themselves up. Therefore, it is extremely important that, while we offer guidance and set boundaries to protect them, we must also give them the freedom to make mistakes, to fall and get back up, to learn, to build within themselves a place that Be”H will be filled by the Shechina.
Shabbat Shalom, Have a Great Shabbos

Ari Deutscher MSW