In this week’s parshah, Re’eh, we have verses that speak about the place where the Temple would be one day be built. Regarding the various sacrifices that were offered to G‑d, the verse reads: “Rather, to the place that The L‑rd your G‑d will choose1 . . . And it will be, that the place, that the L‑rd your G‑d will choose to rest His name2 . . . But only in the place that the L‑rd will choose.”3 These verses tell us that once G‑d chooses the final resting place of His Name, offerings to Him will only be able to be brought there—and nowhere else.

What did they do before G‑d chose “the place to rest His name”? Our sages say:4 “As long as Jerusalem wasn’t chosen, all of the Land of Israel was allowed for altars . . . ” This means that for a period of time, before G‑d chose the place for the Temple, anyone could have an altar in his backyard and bring offerings there whenever he wanted to.

The Rambam5 tells us that it was known that the Temple was built on the place where Abraham, Noah, Cain and Abel, and even Adam brought sacrifices. Indeed, Adam was created from the earth of the Temple. Then the Rambam adds: “Our sages said,6 ‘Adam was created from the place where he atoned.’ ” Apparently, this was already a holy place before G‑d chose it.

So had it always been holy, or did it become holy when G‑d chose it?

From our verses that say “the place that Hashem your G‑d will choose,” we understand that only after G‑d chose the place did it become holy. So why does the Rambam tell us the history of the place—that Abraham, Noah, et. al., brought sacrifices there?

To understand this, we first need to understand the difference between when G‑d chooses a place, making it holy, and when people sanctify a place or an object and make it holy.

When we sanctify a place or an object, the holiness is permanent. However, because the place or the object is limited, the holiness is limited to the dimensions of the place or the object.

When G‑d chooses a place, the holiness is not confined to any limitations. Like G‑d Himself, it is unlimited. The downside is that the place itself does not become permanently holy without us making it holy. The sanctity is imposed from Above, and when G‑d moves on, the place doesn’t retain the holiness.

In history, G‑d had chosen other places before the Temple Mount. Moses erected the Tabernacle right near Mount Sinai, and then later it was erected wherever the cloud that led the Jewish people would stop. In the Promised Land, there were more places, such as Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood for 369 years. These places were all chosen by G‑d, yet when the Divine Presence moved on, they did not retain their holiness.

The combination of G‑d’s choice and human effort creates the eternal resting place of His Name: the Temple Mount, Mount Moriah in Jerusalem.

Rambam tells us that Abraham, Noah and others brought sacrifices to explain why the Temple Mount became the final and eternal resting place of His Name. It wasn’t enough that G‑d chose the place; we also needed Abraham, Noah, etc., to sanctify it. The combination of the two made it eternally holy.

What moved these great men to bring their sacrifices on Mount Moriah? It was because they knew through prophecy that in the future, G‑d would choose this as the final resting place of His Name. Ultimately, it was G‑d’s choice in the future that made it the resting place of His Name.

We are left with a question. Rambam says that Adam was created from the earth of the Temple Mount. If this is the case, then it would seem that G‑d had already chosen this place even before he created Adam. So why does He say, “the place that the L‑rd your G‑d will choose,” which implies that the decision has not yet been made?

To answer, Rambam quotes the words of our sages, that “Adam was created from the place where he atoned.” In other words, the reason G‑d created Adam from the earth of the Temple Mount was because He knew that in the future, Adam would bring sacrifices there. It was Adam’s choice, not Hashem’s.7

Each of us was chosen by G‑d. Each of us is a small Temple. G‑d rests His Name on us in the form of a neshamah, a soul. But it is up to us to put in the effort to experience what we have. It is the combination of both His choice and our effort—through Torah study and the performance of mitzvahs—that we experience the eternal holiness of G‑d.

May our efforts in Torah study and the performance of mitzvahs bring Moshiach, when we will once again experience G‑d’s unlimited holiness in the eternal resting place of His Name: the Third and final Temple. The time has come.