The shock is immense. For several weeks and many chapters -- the longest prelude in the Torah -- we have read of the preparations for the moment at which G‑d would bring His presence to rest in the midst of the people. Five sedras (Terumah, Tetzaveh, Ki Tissa, Vayakhel and Pekudei) describe the instructions for building the sanctuary. Two (Vayikra, Tzav) detail the sacrificial offerings to be brought there. All is now ready. For seven days the priests (Aaron and his sons) are consecrated into office. Now comes the eighth day when the service of the mishkan will begin. The entire people have played their part in constructing what will become the visible home of the Divine presence on earth. With a simple, moving verse the drama reaches its climax: “Moses and Aaron went into the Tent of Meeting and when they came out, they blessed the people. G‑d’s glory was then revealed to all the people.”

Just as we think the narrative has reached closure, a terrifying scene takes place: