“Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell among them.”

February 16, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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“Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell among them.”

Good Afternoon,

In this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, God instructs Moses to tell the people, “Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell among them.” 

If we build a place for God among us, God will dwell there. God is giving us the message that we must actively work to bring God in and then God will reside in our midst.  This Torah portion opens with instructions for Moses to transmit to the people of very specific building specifications to make the Mikdash, or the Tabernacle, to house the whole and the broken set of tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed upon them.

Lately, I have been thinking about what it means to build a sanctuary and to bring God in.  In English, the word sanctuary has connotations of safety. In Hebrew the word used in the Torah is Mikdash. This word is from the same root as kadosh, holy.  The Mikdash is a place imbued with holiness to bring God into the Israelite camp.  This place of holiness also imbues the Israelite camp with feelings of companionship, working together to serve God and to serve each other.  When this happens, there is not violence or instances of people hurting one another.

Unfortunately, we have seen far too much violence and loss of life in our own country due to gun violence.  The most recent of many such tragedies involved at least 17 being murdered at a high school in Parkland, Florida.  While we mourn the loss of so many young lives we must grapple with the greatest question of what to do next. 

What must we do or urge our politician to do so we do not have another mass shooting next week?  

This is a pattern that cannot continue.  Thoughts and prayers do not do enough.  As we worked with God to build and create the Tabernacle or Mikdash, we also must work in our own country to cease this senseless violence.  When we work to build our own sanctuary, our own places of safety, we create places in which God will dwell.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Metz

Category : Rabbi's Journal