“Make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8)
This week the Torah portion contains many instructions for building the mikdash, a holy sanctuary (that is also portable – very handy for wandering Israelites). As God is telling Moses some of the specifics God says, “Make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). This verse raises the question, why does God need a place to dwell among the Israelites, if God is everywhere? Isn’t God there already? If so, what is the deal with this mikdash/sanctuary?
The mikdash is not because God needs a place to be contained, it is actually for us to have a place to be reminded of the divine presence. A place to remind us to be mindful of the awe and wonder in our lives. How often do we forget to notice the things that are around us that we see all the time? The mikdash was a physical reminder for the Israelites, but we can also make our own type of mikdash with time. We can do this by setting aside some time to be mindful of what is always around us. Maybe we want to set aside time to observe the hope or joy in our lives, or maybe set aside time to notice the love or miracles we have experienced. When we make our own sanctuaries in time, it can help bring us together and closer to the divine, just like the sanctuary the Israelites built together in the desert.
Rabbi Becca Walker is the senior Jewish educator for Michigan State University Hillel and The Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan.