This week’s Torah reading contains G‑d’s command and promise: “Make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within.” The Temple was not merely a centralized location for man’s worship of G‑d, it was a place where G‑d’s presence was - and is - manifest. Although “the entire earth is full of His glory,” G‑d’s presence is not tangibly felt. He permeates all existence, but in a hidden way. The Sanctuary, by contrast, was “the place where He chose to cause His name dwell.” There was no concealment; His presence was openly manifest within it.

Nevertheless, the Hebrew word the verse uses for within, , (besochom) is plural. Our Rabbis comment: The verse does not say: “within it,” but “within them,” within every individual man or woman.

When G‑d caused His presence to dwell in the midst of our people as a whole, He also invested Himself within the midst of every individual. Every person’s heart became a sanctuary in microcosm.

The Sanctuary accompanied the Jewish people in their journey through the desert. Wherever they camped, G‑d’s presence accompanied them.

Similar concepts apply with regard to every person as he goes through his journeys in life and to our people as a whole as they journey through time. G‑d’s presence accompanies us. As we proceed from one setting to another, His presence journeys with us.

Our Rabbis explain that the windows of the Temple were slanted to spread light outward rather than let light in. In G‑d’s dwelling place, it was not necessary for light from the outside to enter. Light came from the holy Menorah, the golden candelabrum. What was important is that the light from the Temple radiated outward, influencing the world outside.

Similar concepts apply with regard to the G‑dly light present within every individual. This light should not be self-contained. G‑d does not grant a person spiritual awareness for his own satisfaction. The intent in making a person “a sanctuary in microcosm” is not so that he will appreciate G‑d, but rather that he should share his awareness with others, that he should shine light outward and influence his environment.