The story of the Mishkan - Mishkan Part 1

I have written in the past about Shaul and his stories. Shaul is somehow so convinced that he has fulfilled Gd's command concerning the annihilation of Amalek that he simply refuses to compute the reality that he has not.

(יג) וַיָּבֹא שְׁמוּאֵל אֶל שָׁאוּל וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ שָׁאוּל בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה לַידֹוָד הֲקִימֹתִי אֶת דְּבַר יְדֹוָד: (יד) וַיֹּאמֶר שְׁמוּאֵל וּמֶה קוֹל הַצֹּאן הַזֶּה בְּאָזְנָי וְקוֹל הַבָּקָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי שֹׁמֵעַ:

And Shmuel came to Shaul and Shaul said to him: “Blessed are you to God! I have fulfilled the word of God!” And Shmuel said to him, “And what is that sound of sheep that is in my ears? And that sound of cattle that I hear?”


(יח) וַיִּשְׁלָחֲךָ יְדֹוָד בְּדָרֶךְ וַיֹּאמֶר לֵךְ וְהַחֲרַמְתָּה אֶת הַחַטָּאִים אֶת עֲמָלֵק וְנִלְחַמְתָּ בוֹ עַד כַּלּוֹתָם אֹתָם: (יט) וְלָמָּה לֹא שָׁמַעְתָּ בְּקוֹל יְדֹוָד וַתַּעַט אֶל הַשָּׁלָל וַתַּעַשׂ הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי יְדֹוָד: (כ) וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל אֶל שְׁמוּאֵל אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתִּי בְּקוֹל יְדֹוָד וָאֵלֵךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר שְׁלָחַנִי יְדֹוָד וָאָבִיא אֶת אֲגַג מֶלֶךְ עֲמָלֵק וְאֶת עֲמָלֵק הֶחֱרַמְתִּי:

And God sent you on the way and He said to you, 'And you shall destroy those sinners, Amalek, and you shall battle with him until they are utterly decimated.' And why did you not listen to the voice of God, and you inclined toward the spoils, and did evil in the eyes of God?” And Shaul said to Shmuel, “I have in fact listened to the voice of God, and I walked in the way that God sent me, and I have brought Agag the King of Amalek, and I have vanquished Amalek.”

I wouldn't say that Shaul is an anomaly here. I think that we all get caught up in the stories we tell about our lives. The diffrence would be whether we can let go of those stories when they prove to be false, or incomplete, or inadequate. At such times, we should let the old story fall away to whatever extent possible, and then reconstruct a better story that holds more truth, promises more connection, gives us the greatest amount of impetus and room to grow, etc.

I equate the deconstruction and reconstrution of a story with the deconstruction and reconstruction of the Mishkan in the wilderness. When the Mishkan was in its state of construction, the people could engage in worship and sacrifice. The relationship to the Divine became localized and, to an extent, concretized. Based upon ideas we will explore later, each location in which the Mishkan was reconstructed was a place in which the people – as a whole, or as individuals, or both – had to navigate through some issue. In that sense, God, as the backdrop of that work, was accessed and accessible in a specific way. When the Mishkan was in its state of deconstruction, that accessibility and localization and specificity was elusive. At such times, one might have been expected to digest the inspiration and information of the last iteration, free it of its specific trappings, and consider its wider implications. It would have to become more conceptual or abstract in order to be useful in another iterations

Maybe it ended when it got too literal, when people felt they had control of the narrative. The infinite had become finite. The story-within-a-story had become the entirety. There was no more meta. Everything was immanent. Perhaps there is some correlation between when that happened and when the cloud lifted, the Mishkan was dissembled, the story was deconstructed, and the process would begin again, informed by the last iteration but not defined by it.

Shaul got stuck in his story. There was no other iteration, no next chapter in his life. No teshuva, no reflection. It is not surprising that he spend so much of the remainder of his life trying to eliminate David, as if David was to blame for the breakdown of his process of growth.