This week's Torah reading talks about the gold, silver and other precious metals which were used for various purposes in the Tabernacle and later in the actual temple. A seemingly excessive emphasis is placed on the physical and material substances, considering we are dealing with a spiritual matters.

The story is told of a poor man who, despite his own poverty, would always invite strangers to come into his home and eat a home-cooked meal. His generosity was all the more special due to his own circumstances.

In the merit of these acts of kindness, he was blessed with riches and soon found himself in a large mansion. Now, a change started to occur. Slowly, the poor were no longer welcome in his home. First it was a hint, then a suggestion, finally he would not even let then into his new home lest they spoil the hand-woven white carpets. He was dismissive of their pleas for help, suggesting to them that they should work harder.

As news of his mean behavior spread, he soon found himself shunned by his former friends and colleagues. In despair, he called upon a wise old rabbi.

As they were talking in the mansion, the rabbi pointed to a huge mirror situated on the wall facing the street, feigning ignorance. "What a strange window! All I see is myself! Where are all the people on the street?"

The man laughed. "Rabbi, it is not a window it is a mirror."

"But I don't understand", said the rabbi, "it is made of glass, like a window."

"If it were only glass you would be able to see the other people. But this is a mirror. It has a layer of silver added to it. Now you only see yourself."

"Aha!" said the wise rabbi. "Now I see the problem. When you add the silver, all you see is yourself!"

There is nothing wrong with having material wealth, as long as it is used in the appropriate and fitting manner, unlike in the above story. Our Parshah teaches us that objects which would seem to be very luxurious and materialistic can also be used for the service of G‑d. Anything used in the correct manner may be elevated and utilized for holiness, for spiritual purposes.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe once visited a summer camp where he saw a notice in the office saying, "Money is the root of all evil." The Rebbe commented that the sign was incorrect. Money, like anything else, may be used for good or for bad purposes. It all depends on the person using it.

This idea is also brought out by another verse in our Parshah which says, "they shall make for me a dwelling-place and I shall dwell within them." The Torah does not say "within it" but "within them." Chassidic teachings explain that, "G‑d desired a dwelling-place down below in the physical world" and that this is achieved through our performance of the mitzvot (precepts). Through using the physical and material to achieve the spiritual, we are making a dwelling-place for G‑dliness and spirituality and that through this, the Divine Presence dwells "in them" -– in each and every individual.

It is within our power, through the use of physical items in this physical world, to draw the Divine into our own everyday lives. In the process, we will find ourselves experiencing a new dimension of purpose and meaning within our lives.