The world which G‑d has created for us is very beautiful. One special feature is color: the blue sky and the deeper blue sea, green and brown hills, scarlet sunsets, the multi-colored rainbow and the myriad other colors which surround us at every step in our lives. Colors also have a spiritual significance. A clue to this idea is the way they appear in our Torah Reading, in the description of the making of the Sanctuary.1

The Sanctuary, carefully built by Moses and the Jewish people after receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai, was the prototype of the Temple. Like the Temple in Jerusalem, it created a sacred space, with increasing levels of holiness: the outer Courtyard, then an enclosed chamber where there was the Golden Menorah, then the innermost chamber, the Holy of Holies, where there was the golden Ark, containing the two blocks of sapphire, engraved with the Ten Commandments, which Moses had brought down from Sinai.

The walls of the Sanctuary were constructed of wooden planks overlaid with gold, held firm at their base by heavy blocks of silver. These walls were almost entirely covered by a tent made of specially woven fabrics. In addition there were the garments for the Priests. The Torah tells us what all these fabrics included, in a list at the beginning of this week's Parshah: blue wool, purple wool, scarlet wool, white linen...

Colors! What do they mean?

Chassidic teachings explain that the Sanctuary is not only a physical building, destined to be constructed in more permanent form as the Temple in Jerusalem. The Sanctuary also exists within the heart of each individual. Thus G‑d declares in the Torah: "Make for Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell in them."2 The verse does not say "I will dwell in it," in the Sanctuary. It says "I will dwell in them", in the heart of each individual Jew.

So now we come to our question: what are the colors of the Sanctuary of the heart? What are the colors in the soul? Here is how Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, explains them.3

Blue expresses our awe at the infinite greatness of the Divine. All the immense universes described by astronomers are as nothing compared with G‑d, who is boundlessly Infinite, beyond the world. This idea induces a sense of awe: Blue.

Yet the kabbalists tell us that the same idea can induce a different feeling, a passionate thirst to connect with G‑d, beyond the world, beyond life itself, a fiery love of G‑d: Scarlet.

The combination of these two feelings, awe and fiery love, leads to a sense of how tiny one is oneself, an awareness of how pitifully little one lives up to G‑d's infinite grandeur. From this perspective one looks at one's own self with Mercy, as if from a remote height: poor little self, so lost in thinking only about its own ego.... This mixture of blue and scarlet makes purple.

Yet there is also another kind of love of G‑d. Not the fiery love beyond the universe, but love flowing like pure water, aware of the intimate, caring closeness of G‑d and of G‑d's love for us. This warm sense of love and of loving-kindness is white.

These are the colors in the soul, the emotions with which we relate to G‑d, in our own inner Sanctuary: blue, scarlet, purple, white...