“Where is G‑d?” the Kotzker Rebbe once asked his students.

The students were perplexed. The Rebbe had always told them that G‑d is everywhere, that His Being permeates every element of existence. They did not answer their teacher.

And so the Rebbe told them: “Where is G‑d? Where you let Him in.”

Although G‑dliness is everywhere, for G‑dliness to become an apparent and revealed factor in one’s life, man must let Him in and open himself to G‑d’s involvement.

As an invitation for mankind as a whole to bring G‑dliness into the world, G‑d commanded us to build Him a Sanctuary in the desert and later a Temple in Jerusalem. This commandment, the subject of this week’s Torah reading, enabled man to create an ongoing source of spiritual inspiration for our world.

Parshas Terumah

This week’s Torah reading communicates the command to build a Sanctuary. G‑d told the Jewish people: “Make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within....” The Sanctuary, and later the Temple in Jerusalem, was “the place which G‑d... chose... to place His name there.” This was His home on earth, as it were. Just like a person can relax and express himself without inhibitions in his own home, so too, the Temple was — and will be — the place where G‑dliness was revealed without restrictions.

In every person’s individual world, his soul rests in his mind, and that makes his entire body human. Similarly, in the world at large, G‑d’s presence rested in the Temple, and that made it possible for us to appreciate G‑dliness in every element of existence. The existence of the Temple makes the entire world His home.

Our Rabbis teach us that the Hebrew word for “within” בתוכם, literally means “within them,” not “within it.” Building a Sanctuary for G‑d did not mean merely erecting a structure where His presence would be manifest. Instead, the intent was that every single person would become “a sanctuary in microcosm,” for G‑d would dwell “within them,” within each and every individual.

All the details about which the Torah reading speaks have parallels in our relationship to G‑d. They are not just particulars that existed in the Sanctuary long ago, but are instead ongoing motifs relevant to our bond with G‑d. The ark in the Holy of Holies where the Divine presence rested refers to the inner reaches that exist within our heart. For in each of us, there is a resting place for the Divine.

Similarly, the Sanctuary and the Temple contained:

• the Menorah, the golden candelabra; this points to the potential we all possess to illuminate our surroundings with G‑dly light;

• the table, on which the showbread was placed; this points to our potential to earn a livelihood; this is also a holy endeavor deserving of a place in the Sanctuary; and

• the altar, where sacrifices were brought. Korban, Hebrew for sacrifice, relates to the word karov, meaning “close”; through the sacrifices, we draw close to G‑d.

Although we no longer have the Sanctuary built by Moses, nor the Temple in Jerusalem, the sanctuary in every Jewish heart remains. The home for G‑d within us is an inseparable element of our existence.

Looking to the Horizon

Immediately after the giving of the Torah, G‑d ordered the building of the Sanctuary. For in times of Divine favor, when He openly shows His love for mankind, He has ordained that there be one central place where His presence be openly manifest.

When the Jews lived in Eretz Yisrael, it was in Jerusalem that G‑d chose to have His dwelling constructed. From that time onward, the Temple Mount is the place where the Divine presence rests.

For this reason, one of the signs that Maimonides gives for verifying the identity of Mashiach is that he will rebuild the Temple on its place in Jerusalem.

Two points are implied: a) that the existence of a Temple is a fundamental element of the Messianic age. For as Maimonides had stated previously, at that time, all of the laws of the Torah will be observed and the sacrifices will be offered.

b) The Temple will be built in Jerusalem, in the exact place that the previous Temples stood.

Why must the Temple be built in that place? Because that was the place chosen as the point of Divine revelation. This turns our attention to the third — and most fundamental — element of the Temple’s importance: It is the place where G‑d’s presence will be revealed, and it is from the Temple that the overt appreciation of G‑dliness, which will characterize the era of Mashiach, will spread forth.