The Mobile Home

RV.jpgHave you ever seen a mobile home? I don’t just mean a mobile home, I mean a home that is mobile.

I know a fellow that lived in a mobile home. He was the kind of person who traveled the roads on tour with a small group of entertainers; they would show up in town and do a show. It included the likes of comedy, drama, music and art, and anything in between. They would stay for a few days and then they would be on to the next town. Their means of transport was an RV. But it wasn’t just for transport; it became their place to eat and sleep as well, even while staying in the town. The RV became their traveling home. (This was way before the current trend of tiny homes).

He got so attached to this way of living, that even after he retired, he wouldn’t give up the RV. He lived in the RV parked at a friend’s home until the day he passed away just a couple of years ago.

This got me thinking about the need for comfort on the road. Its obvious that when living at home, we pursue all the creature comforts that we can afford. But what about on the road? Or on vacation? Do we have to have all the comforts of a home on the road?

It can be a full RV, which is like a small traveling house. But even if you don’t have an RV we still try to make our ride as comfortable as possible. We have heating and air conditioning. Comfortable seats, a place to put your things, and even your drink. (And of course it has to have an outlet to charge our phone, or else we will be stuck with a phone out of charge, which is the second greatest cause of heart attacks :) ). It may not have all the conveniences of an actual home, but we try to make it as comfortable as possible.

Why? We are just in the car for a few minutes or a couple of hours. Is it so terrible if the car won’t be at a perfect temperature? Is it so crazy, if the seat won’t be a soft cushioned (leather) chair?

The answer of course is that we do care, because it’s my life! It’s me! Every part of my life is important to me and my comfort is important all the time.

When something is important to us, we care about it all the time, not just some of the time; and not just when it is easy to care about it.

In this week’s portion of Terumah we read about Hashem’s instructions of how to build the portable temple known as the mishkan – the tabernacle. There are many details in how to build it, but the most cumbersome part of it is that it all had to be collapsible. The whole structure was able to be built, taken down and rebuilt over and over throughout their sojourn in the dessert. They had not yet landed in the land of Israel where they would have the opportunity to build a permanent structure – the two great temples in Jerusalem. (Which they eventually did, when they moved into Israel).

But the dessert journey was only for forty years. Why couldn’t they wait until they would get settled in the land and then build a large and beautiful temple there. Why insist on building this small, portable and collapsible temple in the dessert?

The answer is that when it is something that you care about, something that is important to you, you don’t just wait to do it when you are comfortable and set up in your home. Something that is important to you, you find a way to do it, even when you are not all set up. Even when you are traveling on the road, you find a way to do what needs to happen. Making a temple, that the divine presence should be felt among the people, isn’t just a nice thing to do. It is a goal of utmost importants – one which you make it work, even if it means schlepping in the scorching hot sandy terrain through the dessert.

What Jewish values am I committed to, that I will ensure that I make the time for them to happen, even when I’m “on the road”?

To make sure you are comfortable, in the comfort of your home, is no big achievement; to make sure you are comfortable while on the road, now that’s something.

To be committed to Judaism when it is easy, in the comfort of our own home, is commendable; but to be committed to Judaism, when on the road, or any other time that it is a little difficult, now that’s an achievement!

Who wants to come on a trek through life, inviting G‑d to dwell among us, even when we don’t have everything worked out? Let’s join Moses and the Jewish people as they built a home for G‑d, while not yet having all the “trappings” of a “permanent home”.

Shabbat shalom