You should not do any [act of sacrificial worship] to G‑d your G‑d other than at the site which G‑d your G‑d will choose, to place His Name there, from amongst all your tribes. You should seek out His dwelling [place in the Tabernacle at Shiloh] and come there.

You should bring there your burnt-offerings, and your [obligatory peace] offerings, your tithes, [your first fruits—which are] lifted from your hand [by the priests]—your vows, your pledges, and the firstborn of your cattle and of your sheep [which are to be given to the priests.]

[It is] there that you should eat [your sacrifices] before G‑d your G‑d. Then you and your households will rejoice in all the work of your hands. [You should bring offerings according to the means with] which G‑d your G‑d blesses you.

-- Devarim 12:4-7

To which "chosen site" do verses 4-7 refer?

Rashi: The Tabernacle at Shiloh (Rashi on v. 5; according to Gur Aryeh).

Kli Yakar: How could the Torah possibly suggest that Shiloh is G‑d's chosen location, when we know that the site of the Temple in Jerusalem has always been revered as G‑d's chosen place? Avraham carried out the Akeida there, and we even find that Adam offered his sacrifice there. So how could Shiloh be described as "the site where G‑d your G‑d will choose"?

Rather, I maintain that every reference to G‑d's chosen site here refers to the site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

G‑d's Choice of Shiloh & Jerusalem (v. 4ff.)

In contrast to the Tabernacle in the desert, which wandered from place to place, the Tabernacle at Shiloh was a permanent structure fashioned from stone. Thus, at Shiloh, the Divine Presence which dwelt in the Tabernacle became associated with a particular location for the first time. So Shiloh is referred to by the Torah—according to Rashias G‑d's "chosen site."

This, however, begs the question: Why do we find that the term G‑d's "Chosen House" (Beis Habechirah) is used only in reference to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and not the Tabernacle at Shiloh, if Shiloh is also G‑d's "chosen site"?

The Explanation

There are two possible ways of understanding the concept that G‑d "chose" a particular place to be the exclusive location where sacrifices are to be offered:

  1. That the emphasis is primarily on the negative: He does not want sacrifices to be offered in any place other than this; or

  2. That He positively desires this site (and inevitably this precludes the use of any other site).

It could be argued that this is the distinction between G‑d's choice of Shiloh and His choice of Jerusalem:

When introducing the prohibition of offering a sacrifice outside Shiloh, the Torah stresses the negative (precluding other sites) before the positive (exclusivity of Shiloh): "[4] You should not do any [act of sacrificial worship] to G‑d your G‑d [5] other than at the site where G‑d your G‑d will choose, to place His Name there." This indicates that G‑d's intent in "choosing" Shiloh was primarily for the sake of excluding other locations, and not because G‑d had an intrinsic desire that His sacrifices should be offered at Shiloh in particular.

However, in the case of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the Torah stresses the superiority of the site itself first: "Then [you will build the Holy Temple] in the place in which G‑d your G‑d will choose to make His Name rest there" (v. 11), and only afterwards outlines the prohibition of offering elsewhere: "[Only] there should you bring everything that I am commanding you" (ibid.). This indicates that G‑d positively desired Jerusalem as a place of sacrificial worship, not as a means to an end. The prohibition of offering a sacrifice in any other location thus follows as a secondary logical necessity.

And it is for this reason that only the Holy Temple in Jerusalem can truly be called G‑d's "Chosen House."

(Based on Likutei Sichos vol. 24, p. 79ff.)