By: Shabbi Kestenbaum | HA Member
In the opening Passuk of Parashas Terumah, Hashem tells Bnei Yisroel “Asu li mikdash, v’shachanti b’tocham” ” Build for me a sanctuary, so that I might dwell among them” (Shmose. 25:8).
Rabbi Menahem Mendel Morgenstern, the Rebbe of Kotzk, whose 162nd yarzheit was commemorated this past week, notes the Pasuk strangely expresses God’s desire to live “among them,” referring to Bnei Yisroel, and not the more logical “within it,” referencing the Midkash itself.
The Kotzker stresses this Passuk is teaching us that it was incumbent upon each individual to build a sanctuary within themselves first in order to build a dwelling space for God later. It is only when one is wiling to take upon the mission of holiness, that God’s presence will ultimately “dwell among them.”
Indeed, the very act of building a physical structure seems antithetic to the notion of a God above the dimensions of time and space. Thus, notes the Mipharshim, the act of building was not for God, but rather a physical testament to our love and passion to serve those we love.
Indeed, when the Kotzker was asked, “Where does God dwell?” He answered, “In every place we let him in.” For when one is passionate, determined, and enthused with spirit towards his or her goal, he transcends physical dimensions and can achieve his desired goal.
How much more so when one is pursuing a goal rooted deeply in Am Yisroel, building communities infused with authentic Avodas Hashem and Ahavas Yisroel, and ultimately, towards bringing the Amcha home