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Inside and Out

Trumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19 )

by Rabbi Menachem Weiman

What you see is what you get.

Betzalel was given the task of constructing all the pieces of the Tabernacle in the desert. In making the Aharon - the box that held the Tablets of the Law - he used wood and gold. It would seem to have been sufficient to cover the wooden box with gold, but actually God required it to be also covered inside with gold. So it was a gold box inside a wood box inside a gold box. Why all the unnecessary gold?

When a car advertiser puts a pretty woman astride a car to help sell it, they add to the falsehood in the world. Many people put on a fake face for the public, or cover up what's undesirable with a false exterior. You can paint over a rust spot on a car, sell it, and the buyer will only find out months later when the rust peeks through again.

WYSIWYG stands for "what you see is what you get." This concept has many ramifications. When you can tell what you're getting you have trust and confidence in the producer of the goods. The fakers of the world cause us to mistrust everyone. They not only damage their own credibility, but they ruin things for the rest.


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Who is God? Does He put on a fake exterior? Does He pretend to be what He's not?

God is infinite. He does not change. He is through and through the same. A oneness that has no equal.

Therefore any hint of falsehood or fake exterior is the opposite of Godliness. The Talmud says that one of the telltale signs of a true scholar is that his "outside reflect his inside." Someone who wants to be an example and a representative of holiness in the world must aspire to this trait.

And in fact it's something that each of us, on whatever level we're on, should strive for. One of the most important commandments in the Torah is to emulate the Almighty. Since truth, honesty, and integrity are part of God's definition, we need to emulate those traits.

That's what the Aharon represents: the quality of the inside and the outside being one.


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God has a signet ring.

When I was young, it was very popular to get a ring with your initials on it. I had one with and "M" and a "W." Because a ring like that had my initials, it wasn't just a piece of jewelry, it represented something about me.

God has a ring that spells the word "truth," emet in Hebrew. Emet is spelled aleph, mem, and tav. Aleph is the first letter of the alphabet, mem is in the middle, and tav is at the end. The letters of the word itself show us that truth is meant to be through and through (A to Z, in the vernacular). Truth represents God in the world. It's a piece of Him that we can express and envelop. Each individual can be a torch bearer of God merely by being honest and true.

There was a time, not that long ago, when you could hear someone say the phrase, "He's a man of his word. When he says something, you can count on it." Nowadays it doesn't seem as important to people; I wonder if it's even valued.

God's word is 100% reliable.


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Another trait being lost these days is loyalty. Baby boomers are known to have more loyalty than the present younger generation. In the 60s and 70s it was more common to find young people dedicated to causes. When people worked for a company, the employer and the employee tried to work out their differences if there was a conflict. People would stay with the same company for 40 years, then get a gold watch when they retire.

Nowadays, many people are constantly on the lookout to be leaving their job. Some take this attitude into marriage, fully anticipating the possibility of divorce.

Where's the loyalty anymore?

Loyalty doesn't mean you are forced to accept or condone any problems that arise. It means that you do your best to work out the problem, because you are indebted to each other. You are committed to the relationship unless you're forced to dissolve it.


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How many masks do you wear?

It's not a question of "if" we wear masks; it's a question of "how many?" We have a mask for our boss, our employee, our spouse, our children, and our rabbi. Each mask is bound up in our ego and hard to throw away. The masks save us from embarrassment, or feeling bad about ourselves. They can make us feel smart and sophisticated. They are wonderful tools in society.

There's only one problem: Each and every mask is a tiny falsehood in the world. In order to be Godly, and experience the ecstasy of spirituality, you need to cling to every piece of God in the world you can. The key is to discard those masks, to have your outside and your inside matching as much as possible.


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Spiritual Exercise:

For the next week, every person you speak to, ask yourself if you are wearing a mask at that very moment. If so, can you adjust it to a more core truth?

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