Visualize Your Sanctuary, But Stop In Time for Shabbat.

Visualization exercises are used in the military, the world of professional sports, and by elite performers in a variety of fields.

A runner can imagine crossing the finish line first, a business executive can paint a picture of a successful negotiation, and the public speaker can mentally walk themselves through their wildly successful speech.

We have the ability to create a reality with our minds eye.

The power of the mind isn’t limited to rehearsing the desired outcome. Simply thinking through the process, has been shown to increase the rate of success. That way, when we step into the arena of life, we aren’t starting from zero. We have actually accrued some experience simply by thinking.

Much of the focus of visualization is in the realm of performance. However, that is just scratching the surface of the mind’s power.

We can ask ourselves, “who do I truly want to be?” We can think deeply and often about what it is that truly matters. We can then begin to paint a portrait of ourselves. Not in an arrogant and vainglorious sort of way, but as a means to taste our true potential and inspire ourselves to live up to it.

Thought precedes and gives birth to action, and deep thought of great quality is more likely to produce excellence in action. When we have a positive and forward vision for ourselves, it not only increases the chances of success, but transforms and upgrades the quality of that success.

We find an interesting and powerful allusion to the different stages of visualization in the recent Torah readings.

There’s an extremely puzzling aspect to these Torah readings. We infer major Torah laws from a mere hint, so why does the construction of the Mishkan (Tarbenacle) take up so much Torah real estate. Why the need to repeat the details, first as a set of instructions, then in the planning and collection stages, and finally in describing the actual construction?

The Torah is teaching us that we shouldn’t build in a vacuum.

Obviously, we should think before we act, but it goes much deeper. There are several stages of mental work that are a part of the actual construction of the Sanctuary.

While we sadly don’t have a Mishkan or Bais Mikdash, we do have the ability to make our lives into a ‘space’ for the Divine Presence.

The instructions to build come first. We need to appreciate that we were each entrusted with a unique mission. You, and you alone, can make your life the beautiful Sanctuary it can be.

First, create a blueprint of what your structure should look like. Asking questions like, “what materials will I need? What needs to go, before I can successfully create ‘space’ for Hashem? Perhaps my anger, or my feelings of inflated self-importance.

After you’ve done your planning, it’s time to get to work. Torah study, kindness, prayer, humility, and so much more will be the building blocks of your unique and inspiring edifice.

After you’ve been through the entire process, The Torah reveals one final construction lesson. As vital as your Sanctuary building is, Shabbos takes precedence, and the construction must pause for the duration of the Shabbos.

We are reminded that yes, our actions and efforts create and build a ‘space’ for Hashem, but there’s a time when all we need to do is stop. We don’t need to build or create the Shabbos; we just need to honor and safeguard it. Here, in this Sanctuary of time, Hashem’s presence is clearly manifest.

Even thoughts of planning our Divine Service take a rest on Shabbos. Just bask in the sublime beauty of the day, and your spiritual elevation — your Sanctuary construction — will happen by itself.



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Shmuel Halpern

Shmuel Halpern

Adult Jewish education. Denver Colorado