This Shabbat we conclude the book of Shemot / Exodus with one of those film-quality special effects moments: the Israelites finish building the mishkan / tabernacle, and the Shekhinah (God's presence) moves in.
וַיְכַס הֶעָנָן אֶת-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד; וּכְבוֹד יְהוָה מָלֵא אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּןThis is after many, many chapters of extensive description: the array of top-shelf materials, colors, craftsmen and careful design that make up God's instructions to build the mishkan, the portable sanctuary and altar for use while wandering in the desert. It's not really a surprise that it works out well, but the five-verses account of the Shekhinah's taking up residence is staggering in its abruptness. Pages and pages of seemingly small details are followed by a simple, matter-of-fact event.
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:34)
The message here is as follows: if we want to court the Divine Presence in our own lives, we have to work very hard to create an appropriate space. Our commitment to serious introspection and spiritual excavation on an ongoing basis opens us up. As we approach Pesah, the festival that mandates physical and spiritual cleansing, perhaps this is a good time to focus on making that space available.