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Parashat Teruma: "And Let Them Make Me a Sanctuary, That I May Swell Among Them"

  • Rav Itamar Eldar
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

by Rav Itamar Eldar

Yeshivat Har Etzion


ParAshat Teruma


"And Let them make me a sanctuary,

that I may dwell among them"



The upcoming series of parashot (with the exception of Ki Tisa) deal primarily with the building of the Mishkan. The fundamental command regarding the building and purpose of the Mishkan is found at the beginning of the parashat Teruma:


And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all its vessels, even so shall you make it. (Shemot 25:8-9)


            The sanctuary, according to these verses, is the possibility of causing God to dwell among Israel. It is a defined and sanctified site for the resting of God's glory, through which Israel merits the presence of the Shekhina within its midst.


And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them out of Egypt, that I may dwell among them; I am the Lord their God[1] (Shemot 29:45-46)


            The expression "that I may dwell among them" is a gateway to one of the most fundamental and profound discussions found in theology in general and in Jewish thought in particular: the question of God's presence on earth. What is the meaning of a defined place serving as the dwelling place of God? Does He not dwell in other places as well? What does it mean that God dwells in a certain place?


            Along the axis of Jewish thought we find a variety of opinions, starting with those that try to minimize almost entirely God's actual presence in the world and ending with those that insist on an almost boundless presence. This is the way the Rambam understands the concept of God's "dwelling":


Shakhon. It is known that the meaning of this verb is, to dwell. Thus "And he was dwelling (shokhen) by the terebinths of Mamre" (Bereishit 14:13); "And it came to pass, while Israel dwelt (bi-shekhon)" (Bereishit 35:22). This is well known and generally accepted. Now dwelling signifies a permanent stay in a place of one's abode. Accordingly, when a living being has his abode in a place, by which either a general or a particular place may be meant, it is said of him that he dwells in that place, even if he undoubtedly moves within it. This verb is also figuratively applied to things that are not living things, and in fact to everything that is permanent and is attached to another thing. Of all such things the term dwelling may be used, even in cases in which the thing to which they are attached is not a place and they themselves not living beings. Thus it says: "Let a cloud dwell (tishkon) upon it" (Iyyov 3:5). For there is no doubt that a cloud is not a living being, nor a day in any way a body, being a portion of time. It is on account of this latter figurative sense that the verb is applied figuratively to God, may He be exalted – I mean to the permanence of His Indwelling or His providence in whatever place they may subsist in permanent fashion or toward whatever providence may be permanently directed. Thus it is said: "And the glory of the Lord dwelt (va-yishkon)" (Shemot 24:16); "And I will dwell (ve-shakhanti) among the children of Israel" (Shemot 29:45); "And the good will of Him that dwelt (shokhni) in the bush" (Devarim 33:16). In every case in which this occurs with reference to God, it is used in the sense of the permanence of His Indwelling – I mean His created light – in a place, or the permanence of providence with regard to a certain matter. Each passage should be understood according to its context. (Guide of the Perplexed, I, 25)


            First of all, the Rambam asserts that "dwelling" denotes permanence in a particular place.


            Second, in order to lay the groundwork for applying the term to God, the Rambam argues that the "dweller" or the "dwelled within" should not be limited to a place or a body.


            And third, the Rambam, proposes two interpretations of the term:


            First, providence and governance, when we are dealing with something that is not a place.[2]


            And second, the created light, when we are dealing with a place.[3]


            Using a new creation to bridge the transcendental abyss separating between God and man was very common in the Middle Ages. This is what the medieval thinkers did with regard to Divine speech, for it would have been unthinkable to understand Divine speech in its plain sense. Thus, it was suggested that Divine speech is actually a creation fashioned by God, and that this creation connects, and at the same time erects a barrier between man, who hears the voice of God (at Sinai and the like), and God Himself. With this explanation, they were able to maintain the encounter between God and man without undermining God's transcendent nature. This is also what some of the medieval philosophers proposed regarding prophetic visions, and this is what the Rambam did regarding God's dwelling in place. The Rambam concedes that providence and governance do not suffice to describe God's dwelling in a particular place, but nevertheless it is inconceivable that God Himself dwells within the bounds of time and space. For this reason, the Rambam speaks of a created light, which is the Shekhina that dwells among us.[4]


            The view that wishes to understand the concept of the Shekhina as synonymous with providence rests on verses from the Torah and the Prophets. Thus, Moshe declares in his speech to the children of Israel shortly before their entry into the Promised Land:


For what nation is there so great, that has God so near to them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? (Devarim 4:7)


            God's nearness to us expresses itself in our ability to call out to Him and in His attentiveness to and providence over us.


The Mikdash and the Mishkan, according to this understanding, do no come to describe "dwelling in place"[5], but rather personal Divine providence. From the moment that Israel builds the Mishkan, the eyes of God are directed at them and at their prayers with greater force, as King Shlomo states at the time of the establishment of the Mikdash:


For will God indeed dwell on earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built? Have consideration therefore to the prayer of Your servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken to the cry and to the prayer, which Your servant prays before You today: that Your eyes may be open towards this house night and day, towards the place of which You have said, My name shall be there: that You may hearken to the prayer which Your servant shall make toward this place (I Melakhim 8:27-29)


            Surely the Mikdash is not the dwelling place of God, for if the heavens and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, then surely this house cannot do so. This house, however, constitutes a "channel" between God and Israel that prays to Him.


            We shall see that Chassidic thought tries to provide the concept of Shekhina and God's presence among Israel with far greater meaning and significance. With God's help, we shall analyze some of these ideas.


A chariot for the shekhina


            We have seen that the words, "that I may dwell among them" may be understood as an expression of providence and the directing of God's countenance and eyes to Israel. This approach wishes to exclude the possibility of perceiving the Mishkan itself as the place in which God dwells. This perception would involve anthropomorphism, and since the medieval thinkers were particularly sensitive to this problem, they wished to restrict this idea in one of two ways. Either we are not talking about "dwelling in a place" or we are not talking about God, but only created glory or the like.


            This perception, as we shall see, will now be attacked from the opposite direction. The problem with "dwelling in place," according to Chassidut, lies not in the fact that talk of God's presence in the world attaches materiality to God, but rather that such talk limits God's presence to a particular place, and thus it lessens the contact and conjunction that a person can enjoy with the Shekhina.


            Is the Shekhina found exclusively in the Mikdash? What about me, the simple person? What about the synagogue where I pray?


            If we have seen that to a certain degree the medieval philosophers wished to restrict the idea of "that I may dwell among them," now we encounter the opposite phenomenon – the desire to expand it. The first step taken within this framework may be seen in the following:


And it will also be understood according to our approach that Moshe Rabbenu of blessed memory purified himself of all materiality to the point that he became pure spirituality and a chariot of the Shekhina. He became the model for the heavenly Mishkan, and the members of his generation could learn from him how to serve God, blessed be He, so as to merit the apprehensions of Moshe Rabbenu. This is the meaning of the verse, "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." That is, that every member of Israel should totally purify himself in order to be a chariot for the Shekhina. However, not everyone knows in what way the light will dwell, to know from where he will come to merit this apprehension. [Therefore] the verse states: "According to all that I show you, the pattern of the tabernacle, etc." This means: According to all that I show you, to the members of your generation, the pattern of the tabernacle. That is to say, that you are the pattern of the heavenly tabernacle. "Even so shall you make it." This means: And you shall learn to do the same, that you should be a chariot for the Shekhina, because every man can come to the apprehensions of Moshe Rabbenu. What emerges for us from all these things is that the objective of the [Divine] service is to purify oneself and become the chariot for the Shekhina, so that His Shekhina will be in the lower worlds, as was the intention of the creation, that His Shekhina would be in the lower worlds, and His kingdom would speedily be revealed. Now we have said about the verse, "Your kingdom is the kingdom of all worlds," that the attribute of kingdom is the vitality of all worlds. However it is surrounded by kelipot and the holiness is concealed, and we must raise the kingdom of heaven that it should become as one with its beloved, and that His kingdom should be revealed over all the worlds, and that God should be one and His name one. (Ma'or va-Shemesh, Teruma)


            The first expansion of the concept of Shekhina is from the dimension of "world" (olam), that is, space, to the dimension of "soul" (nefesh), that is, man.[6]


            R. Kalonymus of Cracow teaches us that the words, "that I may dwell among them" refers not to a defined place, to a house, or to a bounded area, but rather to man.[7]


            On its plain and manifest level, the command relates to the tabernacle of wood and stone, but on a deeper level, it refers to the establishment of the Mishkan in the soul. R. Kalonymus, however, teaches us how far this aspiration is from us, the simple people, for we are dealing with a very high level that must be learned from Moshe Rabbenu – "that every member of Israel should totally purify himself in order to be a chariot for the Shekhina."


            Using the expression, "chariot for the Shekhina," with respect to man symbolizes the revolution that we have seen in the words of the Me'or va-Shemesh.[8] The chariot described in the book of Yechezkel is the chariot of the Shekhina, but there we are dealing with ofanim and holy beasts, and not with man. The conversion of Yechezkel's chariot that deals with an elevated and abstract spiritual experience into flesh and blood which also serves as the chariot of the Shekhina constitutes the same expansion of the concept of "that I may dwell among them."


            In order to arrive at the desired destination of "chariot for the Shekhina," contends R. Kalonymus, one must be at the level of Moshe Rabbenu, the level that represents the removal of all barriers, all the kelipot, and everything that separates between man and his Creator. The manner in which the Mishkan is built is "according to all that I show you." That is, in the same manner in which Moshe erected His Mishkan, so must every individual erect his own Mishkan. Thus, Moshe Rabbenu's level is the objective and model through which one may reach the level of "chariot of the Shekhina."


            The internal Mishkan is not built of wood and stone, but rather of their removal. The aspect of kingdom, that is, the Shekhina dwelling in the world, is wrapped and surrounded by kelipot. The building of the Mishkan, according to R. Kalonymus, does not involve the preparation of a place into which God will descend, but rather the exposure of His presence that is already found in the world and waiting to be redeemed.


            That which the Rambam wished to reject, R. Kalonymus sees as the fundamental assumption and point zero situation. God dwells in the world, in the midst of each and every member of Israel, but His presence is concealed and requires redemption. Only one who can purify himself so that he may attain the level of Moshe Rabbenu will merit the exposure of this presence. "That I may dwell among them," according to R. Kalonymus, means: "That you may reveal the fact that I already dwell among you."




            The Sefat Emet expands the idea of God's dwelling even further than did the author of the Ma'or va-Shemesh:


Rashi writes regarding "That they bring me an offering" (Shemot 25:2) – let them set apart from their possessions a voluntary gift, etc. This means that a person must give a part of every thing to God, blessed be He. Even though the affairs of this world are very distant, the will must be for God, blessed be He. As Rashi writes: nedava – good will. This itself is the nedava – the desire that one's will should always be for God, blessed be He. And the will supersedes the act, for every human action arouses in the heavens, and the will [arouses] the supreme will. And it is known that with God's will, blessed be He, everything changes in a moment. A person must, therefore, believe that everything depends upon his will. The holy Zohar interprets the Mishkan as referring to man's daily prayers. Namely, a person must clarify how the Shekhina rests in every thing. For surely the entire world is full of His glory. But in accordance with a person's faith, he can feel the Shekhina. In the Mikdash, it was in actuality. Now it is by way of belief, as stated above. All of prayer relates to this, for a person testifies that everything comes from the vitality of God, blessed be He. And to the degree that this becomes clear to a person, he can clarify this in every thing. And to the degree that a person truly wishes to clarify His kingdom, blessed be He, so too can he incline all things toward Him, blessed be He. For material things have no will. And everything must have a will for that is the main thing. This proves that these things depend upon man who has a will. And with his will he can incline every thing towards Him, blessed be He, as stated above. This is the meaning of the verse: "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" - among each individual. And as [the Sages] of blessed memory said that Moshe Rabbenu asked how they could make a Mishkan for His glory, blessed be He. And God, blessed be He, answered, that every member of Israel can make it. And this is the resting of the Shekhina in every thing, that the belief should be fixed that the vitality of everything is above nature, and this is the Mikdash (Sefat Emet, Teruma, 5633)


            The Sefat Emet opens his teaching with the personal responsibility of each member of the people of Israel that precedes the command to construct the Mishkan: "That they bring me an offering."


            This responsibility places man in the center; and upon him falls the task of bringing the Shekhina to rest in this world. Like R. Kalonymus, this resting of the Shekhina goes beyond the delineated space of the Mishkan and the Mikdash. But as opposed to R. Kalonymus, the Sefat Emet does not view man as the vessel in which the Shekhina rests, and from which it becomes exposed, but rather he sees man as the instrument that exposes the Shekhina that rests in the entire world. Man's awareness stands here to the test. Not only is it important for the person himself that all his actions and functions should be for the sake of heaven and come from an experience of the resting of the Shekhina. It is also important for the entire world, which man encounters and elevates through his consciousness. According to the Sefat Emet, man is not the chariot of the Shekhina, but rather he who redeems the Shekhina from its captivity in the inanimate world that can do nothing to expose it.


            The Sefat Emet is dealing here with the contradiction between designating a specific place for the resting of the Shekhina – the Mikdash, the Mishkan, and the like – and the fundamental principle brought in the holy Zohar and constituting the foundation of all kabbalitic thought and in its wake Chassidic teaching: "No place is empty of Him" – that is to say, there is no place where God is not, and there is nothing in which the Shekhina does not rest.


            This duality finds expression in the Sefat Emet's contention that on the one hand, there is no place empty of Him, while on the other hand, the entire material world, with the exception of man, is void of a will, and the will is what connects each thing to its Creator. The will is an expression and echo of the Shekhina resting within each thing and its constant movement back to its root and source.[9] Thus when anything connects with the active will, the Divine light resting within it is exposed.


            While R. Kalonymus focuses on "According to all that I show you" as a model for the building of the Mishkan, from which it follows that Moshe Rabbenu about whom these words were stated is the model, the Sefat Emet focuses on "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering," from which it follows that the responsibility falls upon each member of Israel to bring his personal offering. The personal offering, according to the Sefat Emet, does not involve striving for the level of Moshe Rabbenu, but rather the individual's awareness that accompanies him in all his actions and in all the places that he encounters the material world.


Prayer, asserts the Sefat Emet, is the gateway to this awareness, for when a person prays on behalf of the entire world, he proclaims that they are all connected to the Divine reality.[10] However, the essence of this awareness is not found in prayer, but in "belief," as is stated by the Sefat Emet. The belief that all things proclaim God's glory and that His kingdom extends to everything connects, or in the Sefat Emet's words, inclines the material object to the person's will, and from that to God's will, and in that way God's kingdom, i.e., His Shekhina, is revealed in the world.


The Mikdash, according to the Sefat Emet, is not merely a building, but rather a spiritual reality that goes well beyond the boundaries of the Temple Mount. We are dealing with a reality in which the Shekhina is "actualized," that is to say, the Shekhina's presence cries out from each stone and every inanimate object. In the absence of the Mikdash, asserts the Sefat Emet, it falls upon man to reveal this "crying out" by way of his prayer, his belief, and his consciousness. "And let them make Me a sanctuary," says the Sefat Emet, constitutes a Divine command issued to each individual to sanctify all of his conduct, and to gather all his actions to the belief that no place is void of Him, and that the Divine glory rests in everything.


The Mikdash, according to the Sefat Emet, is the world, and even when, with God's help, there will be a physical Mikdash on the Temple Mount, it will be an expression of the universal Mikdash of the entire world.[11] The demand is made of man, especially in the absence of a physical Mikdash, to expose this kingdom of the worlds in all his actions and in his conscious "offering," giving part of every thing to God.


Mikdash and Mishkan


            We have seen that the basic command constituting the foundation for all the aforementioned ideas is "And let them make Me a sanctuary (Mikdash), that I may dwell among them." Attention should be paid to the fact that the command does not relate to the Mishkan, but rather to the Mikdash.


            The biblical commentators have already remarked upon the relationship between these two expressions, Mishkan and Mikdash. Thus writes the Or ha-Chayyim:


"And let them make Me a sanctuary (Mikdash)." We must understand why He called it a Mikdash, and immediately went back and called it a Mishkan, as it is written, "the pattern of the tabernacle (Mishkan)." It seems that "Let them make Me a Mikdash" is a positive precept that embraces all times, whether in the wilderness or after their entry into the land, at all times that Israel will be there for generations. And Israel was obligated to do so even when they were in exile, only we find that God prohibited all [other] places once the Temple was built, as it says: "For you are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance" (Devarim 12:9). Therefore, He did not say: "And let them make Me a Mishkhan," which would have implied that this command was only stated regarding that time. After He issued a general command, He specified what should be done in the wilderness where it is inappropriate to build a stone structure, that a Mishkan should be constructed as stated. And we find that the Rambam writes in the first chapter of Hilkhot Bet ha-Bechira (halakha 1): "There is a positive precept to build a house for God … as it is written: 'And let them make Me a sanctuary.'" His reason is the change in wording as we have written. (Or ha-Chayyim, Shemot 25:8)


            The Mikdash, according to the Or ha-Chayyim, is the fundamental command for all generations. The Mishkan is its temporary application during the period of Israel's sojourn in the wilderness. The difference between the Mishkan and the Mikdash, according to the Or ha-Chayyim, is between a permanent place and a temporary one.


            It seems, however, that it is possible to distinguish between these two concepts. R. Tzadok ha-Kohen goes in this direction:


The matter of the Mishkan, the altar, and the order of the service is bringing the Shekhina down to the lower worlds, and the order of the tikkunim, and atonement for sin, and cleaning all kinds of filth, and beautifying and adorning the bride, and this results from His Shekhina in the lower worlds. For since there is a revelation of His Shekhina in the hearts of the children of Israel, all the filth is cleaned and the evil is pushed away… This is the Mishkan, that is to say, the place of the Shekhina. The Mikdash, however, that is to say, the place of holiness, is the very opposite of the Mishkan. For holiness denotes separation and withdrawal, His being something separate. But Shekhina denotes dwelling and joining, not separation. As it is written: "Who dwells with them in the midst of their impurity" (as we find in Yoma 56b). This is not the case with holiness, i.e., separation from impurity. And we find that the Mishkan is called Mikdash, and the Mikdash is called Mishkan (as is stated at the beginning of tractate Eruvin), for they are all one, and the two of them together are true, for the Holy One, blessed be He, dwells among the children of Israel and is also separate from them. (Resisei Laila, no. [24])


            R. Yitzchak ha-Kohen of Lublin wishes to distinguish between these two concepts and thus to distinguish between two Divine revelations.


            Mikdash, asserts R. Tzadok, denotes holiness, which implies separation and withdrawal. It is precisely the Mikdash, argues R. Tzadok, that gives expression to God's separation and His distance from the ordinary person. Many curtains separate the Holy of Holies from the ordinary person. Only the High Priest may enter the Holy of Holies, and even he may only enter once a year; only the priests may enter the Holy, and so too there is a place for the Levites, and then a place for the ordinary Israelites. "And the stranger who comes near will be put to death" is a call that echoes all the time through the Mikdash aspect of the Mishkan. This aspect deals with distance that leaves a person in the experience of fear; not everyone who wishes to draw near is permitted to do so.


            The Mishkan, on the other hand, derives from the word "Shekhina," which stands in contrast to "holiness" and reflects revelation and appearance. Its mental movement is not distancing and separation, but rather drawing near and establishing contact. Holiness gives expression to separation and distance. Here the concepts of impurity, sin, and filth are significant inasmuch as they set up a barrier between man and holiness. Until a person removes them, he may not enter the Mikdash, and even then the borders are clearly marked and the area closely guarded. The Shekhina, in contrast, expresses God's presence "in the hearts of the children of Israel." In this sense, there is no feeling of limitation. From this perspective, all impurity, all barriers, and all evil disappear as if they had never existed – "who dwells among them in the midst of their impurity."


            Over the entire course of this lecture we have seen the tension between these two ends that R. Tzadok wishes to connect to the concepts of Mikdash and Mishkan. However, R. Tzadok's truly novel idea, as opposed to all those who came before him, is his adoption of both concepts together. "And we find that the Mishkan is called Mikdash, and the Mikdash is called Mishkan." The Mishkan is at one and the same time an expression of Divine separateness and also a symbol of the Divine presence in the midst of Israel. Thus, it is impossible to separate between the Mishkan and the Mikdash; the two of them reflect both aspects. Even the Mishkan contains an aspect of separation and distance, which comes to expression, as we have seen, in the laws of guarding the area of the holy. In this sense, the Mishkan is a Mikdash. The Mikdash also embraces the aspect of God's presence in the midst of Israel and in their hearts. In this sense, the Mikdash gives expression to the Shekhina that dwells among Israel, and from this perspective, it is a Mishkan. Elevation and exaltedness that express separation, and nearness and revelation that reflect presence, characterize Divine governance as it comes to expression in the Mikdash and in the Mishkan.


            Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik follows a similar path when he interprets the call of the heavenly Serafim, "Holy, holy, holy," as a declaration of the infinite abyss that separates between man and the world, on the one hand, and God, on the other:


Did not the angels sing kadosh, kadosh, kadosh, holy, holy, holy, transcendent, transcendent, transcendent. (The Lonely Man of Faith, p. 31)


            In the very same place, however, R. Soloveitchik notes God's nearness to man and the world:


Yet, Hashem Tzeva'ot melo khol ha-aretz kevodo, He is the Lord of the hosts, who resides in every infinitesimal particle of creation, and the whole world is replete with His glory.


            R. Soloveitchik describes the dichotomy between these two aspects and the confrontation with it[12], and as we saw with R. Tzadok, these two aspects exist side by side. R. Tzadok makes no attempt to bridge between these two poles, and he leaves the separateness next to the presence, each retaining its full character. The tension between presence and separateness, between Mikdash and Mishkan, is built in to our standing before God with our entire being.


            Is prophecy an expression of external revelation from afar: "God appeared to me from far away," or is it an internal spiritual revelation?[13]


            Does prayer reflect standing before a king or perhaps inner contemplation and the exposure of the Divine will within a person?[14]


            Does observance of the mitzvot serve the experience of accepting the lordship of the commander, or perhaps direct a person to the inner essence which finds expression in the mitzvot?


            And finally, is our longing for the Mikdash a desire for a building that will descend from heaven, or perhaps an inner process that will grow within us?


            The constant movement in each of these areas, from one side to the other, from one extreme to the other, is what enervates and invigorates our being, and what fashions the way we respond in each generation, every day, every hour, and every moment to the Divine imperative that echoes above us and within us: "And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them"




[1] Thus states the Midrash: "This may be compared to a king who had an only daughter. A certain king came and married her. He wished to return to his land and take his wife [with him]. [The first king] said: 'I gave you my only daughter. To part from her I am unable. To tell you not to take her, I am unable, for she is your wife. But do this favor for me. Wherever you go, prepare a small room for me that I may live near you.' Thus said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Israel: 'I gave you the Torah. To part from it, I am unable. To tell you not to take it, I am unable. But wherever you go, make me a house in which I may dwell, as it is stated: And let them make me a sanctuary" (Shemot Rabba 33, 1).


[2] "It says accordingly, 'I will go and return to My place' (Hoshe'a 5:15), the signification of which is that the Indwelling that has been among us is removed. The removal is followed by a privation of providence, as far as we are concerned. As it says by way of a threat: 'And I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured' (Devarim 31:17). For a privation of providence leaves one abandoned and a target to all that may happen and come about, so that his ill and weal come about according to chance." (Guide of the Perplexed, I, 23)


[3] Guide of the Perplexed, I, 28.


[4] So too R. Sa'adya Ga'on, Emunot ve-De'ot, II, 10. Interestingly, it is precisely R. Yehuda ha-Levi, whose approach is more critical of philosophy than that of his colleagues, who is more radical than the Rambam and R. Sa'adya Ga'on. He is unwilling to deviate, even with respect to dwelling in a place, from the idea of providence and governance: "The intention in this commandment (= sacrifices) is the creation of a well-arranged system, upon which the King should rest in the Mikdash, not a dwelling in place, but a dwelling of status" (Kuzari, II, 26). In the continuation, he explains, just as the soul governs the body, even though it has no defined place in which it dwells, so too regarding the Shekhina.


[5] As was stated earlier, according to the Rambam, there is a dwelling in place in the sense of "created Divine glory." However the more radical approach, which is also brought by the Rambam, describes the Shekhina as "providence."


[6] Well-known are the words of the Alshikh regarding the verse (Shemot 25:8), "And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them": Israel should not think that God will dwell only in the Temple; the main thing is that the Shekhina will rest in Israel. This is what He says: "And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." That is, I will dwell among Israel, and not only in the Temple (Kedushat Levi, Shemini)


[7] In the continuation of the passage, R. Kalonymus makes another connection between the physical Mishkan and the resting of the Shekhina upon every member of Israel in the world. When he refers to the sefira of Malkhut, called by the Divine name Adonai, which is the Shekhina that is present in the world, he relates to the linguistic connection between the name Adonai and the adnei ha-Mishkan.


[8] It seems that the beginning of the use of this concept, or at least the widespread use of it, is found in the kabbalistic works, the Zohar and other sources. These sources state that each of the patriarchs was a chariot of the Shekhina, and that a tzadik, and sometimes even an ordinary person, can also merit to be a chariot for the Shekhina.


[9] Rav Kook saw in will the foundation of God's presence in the entire world. According to Rav Kook, the task of man in this world is to elevate his will, purify it, and make it correspond to the perfect Divine will. Like the holy Zohar, cited by the Sefat Emet, so too Rav Kook sees prayer as the primary way to elevate the will and refine it.


[10] In a certain sense, this stage in the Sefat Emet is similar to the words of those thinkers who see the Shekhina as an expression of governance and providence. Prayer exposes the Shekhina in the world by turning reality into something that is watched over. However, the Sefat Emet, in contrast to the Rambam, does not stop here, as we shall immediately see, and moves from prayer to belief.


[11] The tension between the Shekhina in the Mikdash and the Shekhina in the world is dealt with in a surprising teaching of R. Nachman (Likutei Moharan Kama, 219).


[12] It should be noted that even when R. Soloveitchik focuses on the aspect of "the whole world is replete with His glory," he is not dealing with the kabbalistic/chassidic concept, but rather with the more moderate position of the school of Maimonides.


[13] This question comes to expression in Rav Kook's question: "Prophecy and the holy spirit enter by way of God's word into man's innermost parts, and from there they reach everything that reaches the entire world" (Orot ha-Kodesh I, p. 23). The Rav ha-Nazir, R. David ha-Kohen, who edited Orot ha-Kodesh, made a change in the original manuscript of Rav Kook, who had written mipenimiyut ("from man's innermost parts"), and not lepenimiyut ("to man's innermost parts"). This change reflects the tension surrounding the question we have been dealing with, also with respect to prophecy.


[14] Rav Kook in Orot ha-Kodesh III deals at length with will and with prayer as a means to elevate it. There the question arises with its full intensity. Chassidic thought also deals frequently with this question, and the different schools proposed different positions (at the two extremes stand R. Nachman of Breslov, on one side, and the Maggid of Medzibezh, on the other).


(Translated by David Strauss)