“They shall make Me a sanctuary and I shall dwell in their midst.”

-Terumah 25:8

This is the mitzvah of building a sanctuary for the Divine Presence, at first the Tabernacle in the desert and later the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) in Jerusalem.

The expression in this verse seems inconsistent. It ordains the making of a sanctuary as a dwelling for the Divine Presence, but then states “I shall dwell in their midst” instead of “in it!” Our sages explain that the Torah speaks not only of a general, central sanctuary for the nation, but also of an individual sanctuary to be built and established by every individual Jew. That is, each one must transform himself and his quarters into a sanctuary for G‑d: a place of Torah study, Prayer and Charity, with effort that all one’s thoughts, speech and deeds be for the sake of Heaven, and to infuse holiness into all that we relate to.

This individual and private sanctuary must manifest itself as such, even on the physical level, by acquiring sacred items like the holy books of a Chumash and a Siddur, and a Charity-Box, and to place these within that private sanctuary. These three items in particular are the very pillars which were the foundation of the Beit Hamikdash:

TORAH: The Beit Hamikdash housed the Holy Ark which contained the two tablets on which were engraved the Ten Commandments. Indeed, the Holy Temple stood on Mount Moriah. Moriah alludes to the term “hora’ah,” which means instruction about the Torah-laws that emanated from there to all of Israel by means of the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court) which was located there.

TEFILAH (Prayer): All sacrifices were offered in the Beit Hamikdash, and our prayers are the substitute for the sacrifices. In fact, of the Beit Hamikdash it is said, “For My House shall be called a House of Prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7), and “This is the Gate of Heaven” (Vayeitzei 28:17).

TZEDAKAH (Charity): The flow of kindness, to and for the world, emanated by virtue of the holy “Table” in the Beit Hamikdash (Terumah 25:23ff.). Moreover, in the Beit Hamikdash there was a special room called the “Chamber of Secret Gifts” into which people put anonymous gifts that were used for the anonymous support of the poor.

When a Jew builds his individual sanctuary in this mode, G‑d promises that “I shall dwell among and within them,” just as in the central sanctuary in Jerusalem. Moreover, intensive study of Torah, fervent Tefilah (especially for the Messianic redemption), and acts of Tzedakah, will bring about, speedily in our days, the third and permanent Beit Hamikdash to be established by Moshiach.