Little Menashe was three years old when the Jews left Egypt. A little kid, really. Even though only a few months had passed, he had only a tenuous memory of the splitting of the Sea. He remembered being thirsty at the place of bitter waters. He remembered the bloody survivors of a sudden war. And he remembered sensing, even as a little boy, when order came upon the camp. Everything had been chaos and a scrambling series of adventures. And then, there was structure. And with structure, the people were prepared, even little Menasha, for the Giving of the Torah. That Menashe remembered. It was the strangest sensation. He understood all of it.
And then, with that great adventure complete, Moshe the Teacher began a series of lectures on civil law. And the elders passed those on to the people. And the people mostly listened. But Menashe’s brief epiphany was gone. He understood nothing. So, instead, he explored the camp, talked to fellow slave-babies and played games whenever possible. He was bored.
And then, one day, the topic changed. Moshe was going to build something. A Mizbeach, whatever that was. And like a kid with his eye peaking through the hole at a construction site, Menashe was hooked. Moshe described building a fantastic building, with skins and acacia wood and gold and copper and utensils and rods and poles. And the whole thing was going to be mobile.
Menashe was mesmerized by the details. But soon, he realized he was also confused.
The more Moshe described, the harder it was for Menashe to picture the building in his mind’s eye. There were flashes of color, dashes of texture and dimensions galore. But there was nothing, truly nothing, that described how the place was actually supposed to look.
It was all so physical, and yet so far from concrete.
Yet still he listened; a menorah, curtains, the Ark and an Altar.
Fascinating things. Physical things without limitation.
He didn’t understand why he couldn’t picture it.
And then, in a flash of insight, he got it.
It was to be a House for G-d.
A physical space to contain the infinite.
No matter how many words were used, it could never truly be described.
So little Menashe did what he could.
He closed his eyes, listened to the words, and felt the presence of the Lord.