The Testimony

March 22, 2017 at 1:53 AM , , ,

22″…These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the testimony…” – Shemot 38:21

אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת – שמות לח, כא

What is the “testimony” to which the Torah refers when calling the Mishkan, “The Mishkan of the Testimony”? Rashi explains that the Divine Presence resting in the Mishkan was itself the testimony: “It served as testimony for the Jewish people that the G-d forgave them for the incident of the calf, as He caused His Shechinah to rest among them [in the Mishkan].”

A testimony makes known that which is otherwise unknown or hidden. Facts that are obvious and widely known do not require testimony; in Jewish law, even facts that are currently indefinite but will inevitably become known in the future must not be proven with actual testimony (see Talmud, Rosh Hashana 22b). Accordingly, inherent in the name “The Mishkan of the Testimony” are the two extremes with which the G-dly revelation in the Mishkan was unique.


Firstly, the revelation was in a material structure, built by human efforts. A revelation of G-dliness within a spiritual context is not entirely foreign. Within physicality, however, a revelation of the divine is “testimony” to a truth that is otherwise existentially hidden.

From the other extreme, the Torah calls the G-dly revelation in the Mishkan a “testimony” because it was an exposé of the essentially unknown. Namely, the Mishkan served as dwelling place for the essence of G-d that transcends revelation, and is not manifest in any G-dly revelation or divine influx found even in the spiritual realms.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 1, pp. 198-199


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