This week we have a double Torah reading VaYak’hel (Ex. 35:1-38:20) and P’kudei (Ex. 38:21-40:38). These readings deal with the final construction and implementation of the Tabernacle.
Philo of Alexandria sees the Tabernacle itself as representing the idea of “incorporeal virtue” and the alter as representing the idea of “the emblem or image” of virtue “which is perceptible to the outer senses.”:
(134) Let us then look upon the tabernacle and the altar as ideas, the one being the idea of incorporeal virtue, and the other as the emblem of an image of it, which is perceptible by the outward senses. Now it is easy to see the altar and the things which are on it, for they have all their preparations out of doors, and are consumed by unquenchable fire, so as to shine not by day alone, but also by night; (135) but the tabernacle and all things that are therein are invisible, not only because these are placed in the innermost recesses and in the most holy shrines, but also because God has affixed according to the injunctions of the law, the inevitable punishment of death, not only to any one who touches them, but to any one who through the superfluous curiosity of his eyes beholds them. The only exception is, if any one is perfect and faultless, unpolluted by any error whether it be great or small, having a nature entirely even and full, and in all respects most perfect; (136) for to such a man it is permitted once in each year to enter in and behold what is invisible to others, since in him alone of all men the winged and heavenly love of incorruptible and incorporeal good things abides. (137) When, therefore, any one being smitten by the idea is influenced by the seal which gives an impression of the particular virtues, perceiving, and comprehending, and admiring the most God-like beauty of that idea which he is approaching, as having received the impression of that seal, then a forgetfulness of ignorance and folly is at once engendered in him, accompanied by a simultaneous recollection of instruction and learning.
(On Drunkenness 134-137)
(139) And he very often speaks of the tabernacle of testimony, in truth, inasmuch as God is the witness of virtue, to whom it is honourable and expedient to attend, or inasmuch as it is virtue which implants steadiness in our souls, eradicating ambiguous, and doubtful, and hesitating, and vacillating reasonings out of them by force, and revealing truth in life as in a court of justice.
(On Drunkenness 139)
What Philo is saying, is that when reason (Logos) in our rational minds, is master over our passions and inclinations, the living out of the four virtues in our lives results. Moreover, practicing the virtues, strengthens our rational mind against the passions and inclinations.
For example, there is a synchronicity between the mastery of reason over the emotion of fear in our minds, and the manifestation of courage in our lives.
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