We often wonder why we have so many rules. Why does G-d care about what I eat or about what specific words I say while praying? If going to the football is a deeply spiritual moment (especially if the Bombers are playing), shouldn’t that count as a prayer service? Why, indeed is our religion so prescriptive.
Over the next few weeks we see an answer to these questions. The Torah tells us to build the Mishkan, a roving sanctuary which will eventually be replaced by the Temple, to incredibly specific certifications. The ark is to be two and a half cubits long, one and half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits tall. It is to have three layers, the outer and the inner are to be gold and the middle layer is to be wooden. It also has a golden lid which is built to particular specifications and has two angels on top. Those two angels embodied a miracle. When G-d is pleased with us, they face each other. When G-d is unhappy they face the walls instead.
The ark embodies our religious experience. A very specific set of rules and observances designed to form the basis and scaffolding for our religious lives. If we build the base correctly (to the best of our abilities) the inspiration will flow. We will learn the content of our actions and connect to them at a deeper level.
The Torah says: “and they shall make for me a holy space and I will dwell in their midst”. Hashem wants us to connect. The reason for all of our rules is not that something else is more important. It is that for G-d to dwell amongst us, for us to feel that connection, we must first build the house he inhabits.