Imagine a house with three rooms.

In one room you wheel and deal, build and demolish, eat and sleep, work and play. This is the largest room in your house.

In the second room you pray and meditate, study and contemplate. Here you have heart-to-heart talks with your spouse, your children and your closest friends.

The third, which is the smallest and innermost room, is where you go to be alone with yourself.

Your life is this three-chambered house. Because you are three selves: your material self, which participates in and interacts with the material world; the spiritual you, which relates to the ideas, feelings and altruistic yearnings in yourself and others; and your ultimate self, the “I” that comprises, and (therefore) transcends, both matter and spirit.

The bulk of your time is spent in the first chamber, for there resides the bulk of your life. You treasure your hours in the second chamber, few and occasional as they are, for in these you recognize a higher quality and more refined mode of being. Rarely do you enter the third chamber, consumed as you are with the press of the material and the call of the spiritual; perhaps you visit there one day a year, or a single moment in your lifetime. But there it ever is, your absolute center—that which enables you to construct doorways and windows between the other two chambers; that which makes each of them, and both together, yourself.

G‑d, too, has such a three-roomed home. He dwells in our world, making Himself available to His creations on these three levels.

He decreed a multitude of mitzvot, physical acts which He deemed inroads to His essence. He said: When you give this coin to charity, when you wind these tefillin on your arm, when you eat this matzah on Passover, your are actualizing My will, bonding with My very self.

He also said: Here are My thoughts, engraved in stone and inscribed on parchment. These are the adjectives by which I have allowed Myself to be called, these are the words with which I can be addressed, these are the feelings in which I have invested Myself to parallel yours. Study My Torah, pray to Me with the formulae composed by My prophets, and you shall enter the chamber where My spiritual self dwells and commune with Me.

He also said: There is an innermost point of meeting with Me—I Myself as I transcend both the physical and spiritual channels of connection I have entered. Very rarely will you encounter Me thus. Perhaps once a year on Yom Kippur, when you divest yourself entirely of your bodily self. Perhaps once a year on Purim, when you surrender knowledge and feeling to be known and sensed by Me. Perhaps once in a lifetime, in an act of extreme self-sacrifice for My sake. But there I am. And from there I radiate My essence to the two other chambers; from there derives your ability to navigate them both, and to pass from one to the other and back again.

When the children of Israel camped in the desert, G‑d commanded them to build a model of His home on earth. The Mishkan (Tabernacle) they constructed was comprised of three domains: the courtyard, the Holy, and the Holy of Holies.

In the courtyard stood the laver at which those entering the Tabernacle washed their hands and feet; there animals were slaughtered, offered on the outer altar, and eaten by the priests. This was the most “physical” of the Mishkan’s domains, where the resources of the material world were processed and incorporated into man’s service of G‑d.

The Holy housed the golden menorah in which seven flames burned, fueled by the purest olive oil; the golden table and its showbread; and the inner altar for burning incense. This was the spiritual arena, the “mind” and “heart” of the Mishkan.

The Holy of Holies was the smallest, innermost chamber, where space and anti-space coexisted, and into which only the high priest entered, and only on the holiest day of the year. This was the soul of the divine abode.

We built that first prototype following detailed instructions which Moses received at Sinai. When the last pillar, tapestry and partition had been fixed in its place, G‑d made His presence dwell in the Tabernacle—empowering us to replicate its three domains in the three chambers of our lives.