Dear Friends,

Tamar and I wait with along with you, eager to hear where you will be heading next year, and what your career holds in store.

Match day is a watershed moment, a day that you go from a medical student to a contracted doctor. You will be assigned to an area, a mandate, and most importantly, a segment of society which will now be under your responsibility, as doctor, to care for.

To truly appreciate this new role and the transformation today entails, we can take a look in the Torah we study this week. In the description of the Tabernacle, the mini temple called the “Mishkan” which was constructed in the desert, the Torah this week states: “these are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony”. Notably, the work ‘Mishkan’ is repeated, and the second time is given the qualifying description, “the Mishkan of testimony”.

The Jerusalem Talmud in fact refers to two tabernacles, one, an academic, intellectual one which is a construct of the understanding of the instructions as given and described by G‑d to Moses, and the second, the physical one, as built by the Jews in the desert.

Of the two, only the second is described as “the Mishkan of testimony”. True, the first was understood in the sublime and esoteric intellect of Moses, and was learned via the medium of prophecy (in a revealed manner that only Moses achieved), and on Mount Sinai, in an environment where the deepest secrets were revealed, and yet all of that revelation could not be described as ‘testimony’.

Testimony is a distinct process, a revelation of something that is otherwise unknown. We do not need ‘testimony’ to facts that are clearly in front of us, and, even with regards to issues that are not seen, but ultimately will become known, we are not very strict on the caliber of the witnesses. True ‘testimony’ applies to a revelation that is otherwise completely unknown.

“The mishkan of ‘testimony’”, the second, physical tabernacle, earns its title because only through hands-on, actual, physical activity do we reveal the true esoteric essence of our deepest selves. Taking a thread of wool and gold and weaving a tapestry for G‑d reveals a deeper bond and connection then even the deepest meditation.

You have spent four years studying medicine in broad and microscopic detail. You have studied from some of the best teachers and assimilated cutting-edge scientific discoveries. Yet today, you don’t just ad a notch on your belt, today you become a completely distinct entity, today you connect to the people you will help, who will change you from a student of medicine, to a doctor.

The knowledge of medicine is an accumulation of the work of many, absorbed by your intellect - the practice of medicine is an expression of yourself, the very deepest aspect of your soul and who and what you are.

Good luck and congratulations.


Rabbi Zalman