In this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, we read a familiar passage, “Let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among [or within] them.” This simple verse has invited many profound insights, as scholars throughout the ages have sought to answer the question: What meant by, “I may dwell among [or within] them?”
While many commentators interpret this passage as being a reference to God dwelling in our midst, the Malbim (a nineteenth–century European commentator) invites us to consider this passage in moral terms. Rather than contemplating an actual, physical place of worship, he suggests that “each of us needs to build God a Tabernacle in the recesses of our hearts, by preparing ourselves to become a Sanctuary for God and a place for the dwelling of God’s glory.”
During this 2-year hiatus from normative synagogue attendance, each of us has come to embrace this beautiful interpretation in our own ways. COVID may have kept us from gathering in the sanctuary, but it has also challenged us to pave unique connections to God in our homes and our hearts.
As we consider this famous verse of Torah in the context of our challenges today, we are reminded of the eternal truth that God can dwell within us (as well as among and around us). It is our ongoing responsibility to nurture that inner-space so each of us can be a sanctuary for God’s presence every day.
This video clip contains a song we sing at HCRJ that helps us remember this message in a very special way.