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Dear Mogen David Family,

At the very end of the previous Parasha, Parshat Mishpatim the Torah informs us that Moshe Rabbeinu emerged from amidst the cloud and ascended Har Sinai, remaining there for 40 days (24:18). The Seforno, commenting on this pasuk, points out that on all three occasions Moshe went up Har Sinai was for a duration of 40 days. Throughout the Torah we find 40 as a recurring number of significance. The flood, mabul, in the times of Noach was 40 days and 40 nights; Moshe's stay on Har Sinai was 40 days; and, as the Seforno tells us, the 'creation' of a child is 40 days (before 40 days it is too early in the 'baby's' fetal development to even determine with certainty the viability of the fetus. At 40 days doctors can begin to detect brain waves. 

According to Halacha, the fetus is defined as 'maya b'alma,' similar to liquid without any real significance). Many people today will, as a Segula, say Tehillim at the Kotel HaMa'aravi--or at home--for 40 days. 40 symbolizes creation and renewal.

Interestingly, right after the mentioning of Moshe's 40 day sojourn atop Har Sinai, our Parasha opens with the commandment to give donations (Terumot) and establish the Mishkan: "V'assu Li Mikdash, V'shachanti B'Tocham," make for Me a sanctuary and I will live dwell therein. The Mishkan, which served as the precursor to the Beit HaMikdash in Yerushalayim, was a portable, physical structure where Bnei Yisrael would connect with the Shechina, the Divine Presence, primarily through offering Korbanot. 

What is the significance between these two subjects? 

How do the Yemei Vlad Yetzira, the 40 days of fetal development, connect to the Mishkan/Mikdash? 

The Zohar establishes the idea that each Guf and Neshama, body and soul, of Am Yisrael is its own Mikdash; every Yetzira of HaKadosh Baruch Hu is a sanctuary on to itself. Many health fanatics and 'workout-aholics' refer to their bodies as their 'sanctuaries.' In Judaism we take this idea literally! But our bodies are not sanctuaries for muscles and abs (though health is very important-"V'nishmartem Meod L'nafshotechem"), but for Kedusha V'Tahara. Many Mitzvot hinge on this idea. We need to treat our bodies and minds respectfully. 

What enters our bodies, and our minds, should be pure and healthy. Our bodies are not our own property to tattoo and maim, just as we wouldn't graffiti a Beit HaKnesset. This analogy which the Torah provides between Yetzira and Mikdash is an important lesson in  Ben Adam L'Atzmo, in how we treat ourselves. We are sons and daughters of the Ribbono Shel Olam, and we should enjoy all that He allows us to enjoy, but with care and respect.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yehuda Moses Rav HaKehillah/Senior Rabbi

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