75 words for 75 years of Israel – Mishkan/Tabernacle

75 words for 75 years of Israel – Mishkan/Tabernacle

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!





“On the day that the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the Tabernacle, the Tent of the Pact; and in the evening it rested over the Tabernacle in the likeness of fire until morning.” (Numbers 9:15)

וביום הקים את המשכן כסה הענן את המשכן לאהל העדת ובערב יהיה על המשכן כמראה אש עד בקר.

“How fair are your tents, oh Jacob, your dwellings, oh Israel!” (Numbers 24:5)

מה טבו אהליך יעקב משכנתיך ישראל.

Mishkan, Hebrew for “Tabernacle,” refers to the holy sanctuary that God commanded the children of Israel to construct in the desert as a place of worship. The root of the word Mishkan means “to dwell,” as the verse states, “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). God’s presence was felt and experienced in the Mishkan more than any other place on Earth. The Hebrew word for God’s presence is Shechinah, which shares the same grammatical root as Mishkan.

The sages teach that the Mishkan was an atonement for the sin of the golden calf. By worshiping the golden calf, the people demonstrated their faith in polytheism, the belief that there are many disparate forces in the world controlled by many gods. The Mishkan was an atonement for this sin, for it was a dwelling place for the one true God of the universe. In building this sanctuary, the people acknowledged that all of the forces of nature emanate from God alone. 

The Mishkan was made of many different and disparate parts, including wood, various metals, fabrics and animal skins. Yet upon the completion of the Mishkan, the Bible declares that “the Mishkan was one whole” (Exodus 26:6), emphasizing that despite the great diversity of parts in the Mishkan, it possessed an inherent unity. The same is true of the entire world. Though the universe is unbelievably diverse, all of its creations were formed and created by God and are an expression of His will.

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