Place: In the Wilderness
Who: The Children of Israel
When: Almost a year after leaving Egypt

For seven days they practice. Each morning the intricate pieces of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) are assembled by Moses. Each day Aaron and his sons rehearse the service an familiarize themselves with the correct words and actions. And each evening, Moses takes the Mishkan apart again, prepared to repeat these actions on the morrow.

For seven days the soon-to-be new priests, Aaron and his sons, do not leave the confines of the Tabernacle. On the eighth day, however…it’s showtime!

On the first day of the Hebrew month of Nisan (the first month of the Hebrew calendar), the Israelites inaugurated the Mishkan. The entire nation gathered and stood before the Tent of Meeting. Moses opened the ceremony by announcing “This is the thing the Lord has commanded; do [it], and the glory of the Lord will appear to you” (Leviticus 9:6). Thus began the first public sacrificial ceremony in the new Tabernacle.

Regardless of what 21st century people think of sacrificial rites, it must have been an awesome sight when “the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fats upon the altar, and all the people saw, sang praises, and fell upon their faces” (Leviticus 9:23-24).

Time, according to Judaism, always maintains its sanctity. Today is Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first day of the month of Nisan. The Jewish people do not now have a Mishkan or Temple, but we can each take a moment to imagine what it was like.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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