Israel Forever

For the week ending 8 February 2003 / 6 Adar I 5763

The "Holy Sites"

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

What is a holy site?

In the media reporting on the Middle East we frequently hear references to holy sites in the region that underscore the conflicts between religions in this part of the world and elsewhere.

This weeks Torah chapter is dedicated to the construction and furnishing of the holy site of Judaism, the Mishkan. They shall make for Me a sanctuary, G-d commanded Moshe to instruct the Israelites soon after their liberation from Egyptian bondage, so that I shall dwell within them.

The use of the term them rather than it has been interpreted as a message that the purpose of the Mishkan sanctuary was to facilitate the dwelling of the Divine Presence within the heart of every Jew. The role of the Mishkan in the wilderness and during the first four centuries of a Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael was perpetuated by the first and second Beit Hamikdash Temples which spanned a period of nine centuries. All of this is today but a memory to which a visit to the Kotel (Western Wall) gives a special dimension. This does not mean, however, that a Jew cannot build a mini-sanctuary in his heart even today. The Divine Presence is waiting to dwell within the hearts of all Jews if only they will let it enter!

This is the true eternity of our eternal people. Sanctuaries have vanished, temples have been destroyed and those who worshipped in them have been exiled. But wherever Jews went they took with them the sanctuaries they established in their hearts with their loyalty to G-d and His Torah, which makes every Jew a holy site. This sort of sanctuary is with us forever and provides the guarantee of Israel forever.

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