Make For Me A Sanctuary
Sichos in English

Shabbos Parshas Truma; 6 Adar, 5750

1. This week’s Torah portion, Parshas Truma, contains a fundamental Torah subject, the commandment, "And you shall make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within them."

The remainder of the book of Shmos is devoted to this subject. This week’s portion describes G-d’s command to build the Sanctuary itself and its utensils. Parshas Tetzaveh describes the mitzva of kindling the menora, the priestly garments, the initiation of Aharon and his sons, and the incense altar. Parshas Ki Sisa describes the donation of the half-shekel to make the sockets, the details involved in the incense offering, and the making of the basin for sanctifying the priest’s hands and feet. Parshas VaYakhel describes the manner in which Moshe Rabbeinu related G-d’s command to the Jewish people and how the Jewish people fulfilled it. And Parshas Pikudei describes the completion of this sequence, the actual construction of the Sanctuary and how "the glory of G-d filled the Sanctuary."

Only after completing the description of how the Sanctuary was constructed, does the Torah relate the commands G-d gave to Moshe regarding the sacrifices, as described in the Book of VaYikra. Since the command to build the Sanctuary and its fulfillment is described in several parshiyos, we can infer that each of those parshiyos represents a different concept and stage in the spiritual service associated with the Sanctuary.

The construction of the Sanctuary expresses, in microcosm, G-d’s intent in the creation of the world: establishing a dwelling, a place where His essence is revealed, in the lower worlds. For this reason, the command to construct (and the construction of) the Sanctuary came directly after the giving of the Torah. The giving of the Torah represented the nullification of the decree separating the spiritual from the material. From that time onward, the potential existed for the Divine presence to be revealed within the world and for the material entities of this world to be elevated and transformed into articles of holiness.

Both of these dimensions were revealed in the construction and the service of the Sanctuary. The material items donated by the Jews became part of G-d’s Sanctuary, and after the Sanctuary was erected, during the subsequent service, G-d’s presence was revealed in the world.

For this reason, the command, "make Me a Sanctuary," applies not only to the Sanctuary built in the desert, but to the Sanctuary in Shilo, the Beis HaMikdash, and to the personal Sanctuary within the heart of every Jew, even during the time of exile. The establishment of a dwelling for G-d is the very goal of the creation of the world.

The establishment of such a dwelling, however, involves many phases; each of the parshiyos from Truma until VaYikra represents a different stage in the establishment of this dwelling. The names of the various parshiyos allude to the service to which they refer.

Parshas Truma describes G-d’s command to build the Sanctuary. This command gave the Jews the potential to make a dwelling for G-d using the physicality of this world for a Sanctuary wherein G-d’s presence would be revealed.

Parshas Tetzaveh adds a deeper dimension to the unity established between G-d and the world as revealed in the opening phrase, "V’ata tetzaveh." "Tetzaveh" (command) is related to the word tzavsa (connection). "V’ata" (you) refers to the essence of Moshe’s being, and ultimately, to G-d’s essence itself. In this sense, through the construction of the Sanctuary, a connection is established between the Jewish people in the material world, the essence of Moshe’s soul, and G-d’s essence.

The revelation of Moshe’s essence and G-d’s essence – which will also bring about the revelation of the essence of every Jew – will effect even the lowest levels. Regardless of the level one is on, the essence of every Jew, even the most simple person, is connected with the essence of G-d through a fundamental bond that cannot be broken or interrupted. As the Alter Rebbe declared, "No Jew can or desires to be separate from G-d."

Based on the above, we can understand the higher level reflected by Parshas Tetzaveh in comparison with Parshas Truma. G-d mentioned Moshe’s name when He commanded him to build the Sanctuary. This implies a relationship only to the revealed levels of G-dliness. In contrast, in Parshas Tetzaveh, Moshe’s name is not mentioned, implying a connection reaching G-d’s essence itself, which is drawn down to every Jew, even those on the lowest levels.

This concept is also reflected in the kindling of the menora, the mitzva mentioned at the beginning of the parasha. The manner in which the Torah relates this command is problematic: Although Aharon and his sons kindled the menora, G-d told Moshe that the oil for the menora should be brought to him. Furthermore, in the initial verse, which was directed to Moshe, the Torah talks about kindling "a continuous flame," whereas the second verse, which describes the kindling of the menora by Aharon, mentions that the menora should burn "from the evening until the morning."

These difficulties can be resolved through an analysis of the spiritual dimensions of the concept. The kindling of the menora refers to lighting "the candle of G-d, the soul of man," which is in the heart of every Jew, motivating each Jew to love G-d, to desire to cling to G-dliness, and to shine with "the candle of mitzva and the light of Torah." Aharon gives each Jew’s soul the potential to shine from below (the Jew’s own level) to above. Being that this potential stems from a human, and hence, inherently limited initiative, there are, therefore, limitations within the power of the light; it shines only "from the evening until the morning;" i.e., a small flame of G-dly light shines within the person’s darkness. This refers to the light generated by the service of prayer and the fulfillment of mitzvos that are bound by the constraints of limitations of time.

"From the evening until the morning" also implies a continuous process of growth. One ascends to a higher level, "morning," which makes one’s previous rung appear as "evening."

For Aharon’s kindling of the candles – the souls of the Jewish people – to be "a continuous flame," the connection with the essence of G-d ("V’ata tezaveh" as explained above) must be established. The essence of G-d is completely beyond the concept and possibility of change. Thus, it (through the medium of the essence of Moshe) generates the potential for a Divine service that is similarly unchanging. This is reflected in the service of "the light of Torah," which establishes a constant connection between a Jew and his source and, therefore, brings about a continuous light and revelation.

In particular, the passage speaks about different dimensions: Aharon’s lighting of the candles "from the evening until the morning," a revelation which recognizes and relates to the world, as well as, "The continuous flame," associated with Moshe. Each of these revelations is significant and contributes a dimension lacking in the other. "And both revelations are made possible and fused together through G-d’s essence — "V’ata Tetzaveh."

2. Parshas Ki Sisa contributes an added dimension to the manifestation of the Divine presence in the Sanctuary. The words "ki sisa" mean, "when you shall lift up." To this end, Ki Sisa deals with the elevation of the Jewish people from their previous rung. Ki Sisa is also related to the Jewish people’s activities involving the material substance of the world, emphasized by the giving of the half-shekel,.

To explain: When G-d commanded the Jewish people to give a half-shekel as "atonement for their souls," Moshe was amazed. He could not comprehend how giving a coin, a physical object, could bring atonement for a soul, which is "truly a part of G-d Above."

G-d responded by showing Moshe Rabbeinu "a coin of fire...from beneath His throne," and telling him, "This is what they should give." G-d informed Moshe that the coin the Jewish people would be giving would not be merely a material coin, but rather, "a coin of fire...from beneath His throne." This does not mean merely that the source for this coin was spiritual, or merely that through the fulfillment of mitzvos the Jewish people have the potential of drawing down spiritual energy (fire) into their fulfillment of the mitzvos; rather, there is a potential for a complete unity between the physical and the spiritual. Even as the coin exists in the material world, it remains "a coin of fire...from beneath His throne"; there is no change in its nature.

G-d showed Moshe this coin of fire, implying that this unity between spirituality and physicality is only possible through G-d’s influence. G-d, Himself, established the different levels of existence. Thus, He alone can nullify the factors that differentiate one level from another and fuse the spiritual with the physical.

Thus, Parshas Ki Sisa teaches us that the union between the spiritual and the physical (which was brought about by the giving of the Torah and which was manifest in the Sanctuary) does not imply that a revelation of the spiritual will merely become revealed within the physical, but that the unity between them can be complete and total.

Parshas VaYakhel adds a further dimension to this process. The previous parshiyos deal with G-d’s command to Moshe to construct a Sanctuary. Parshas VaYakhel mentions Moshe’s relaying this command to the Jewish people, and their fulfillment of it. Thus, it describes the actual service of creating a dwelling for G-d in this material world.

There is an added aspect to this parasha. VaYakhel means "And he gathered together." The establishment of Jewish unity was a necessary precondition to the construction of the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary was not merely the product of the combined efforts of many people, but rather the product of the Jewish people as a collective whole. When a donation was made to the Sanctuary, the money or article donated belonged to the community as a whole. As a preparation for this service, the Jewish people had to be gathered together and fused into a single unit.

Parshas Pikudei contributes another important element, for it is the summation of the narrative of the construction of the Sanctuary. It describes how the Sanctuary was actually constructed and how G-d caused His Presence to rest therein: "And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of G-d filled up the Sanctuary."

This leads to an even further dimension of service contributed by Parshas VaYikra. Whereas Parshas Pikudei relates that, because of the intensity of the revelation of G-d’s essence, Moshe was unable to enter the Sanctuary, Parshas VaYikra describes how G-d called to him and made it possible for him to receive this revelation.

Furthermore, Parshas VaYikra describes the service of offering sacrifices. This represents the purpose of the building of the Sanctuary. The Hebrew word for sacrifice, korban, is related to the word kiruv (close). Sacrifices draw the material essence of the world close to G-d and also evoke pleasure, creating "a pleasant fragrance unto G-d," for "it is pleasing before Me that I uttered a command and My will was done."

The lessons from the above must be applied to our own Divine service. Their continuous relevance is further emphasized by the fact that the command, "And you shall make Me a Sanctuary and I shall dwell within," does not apply to the construction of the Sanctuary alone; rather, it also applies to the construction of the first and second Batei HaMikdash as well as the third Beis HaMikdash, which will be constructed speedily in our days.

The third Beis HaMikdash will be "the Sanctuary of G-d, established by Your hands." Therefore, it will be, unlike the first and second Batei HaMikdash, an eternal structure. It will represent the most complete expression of the unity between the physical and the spiritual and the ultimate expression of all the lessons contributed by each of the parshiyos mentioned above.

This is particularly relevant in our generation. Throughout the ages, the Jewish people have yearned for the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. This yearning has been expressed in the study of the service required in the Beis HaMikdash so that when the Beis HaMikdash is rebuilt, we will be prepared and will know the laws necessary to begin its service.

Efforts of this nature are particularly appropriate in the present era when, "all the appointed times for Moshiach’s coming have passed," and according to all the signs given by our Sages, we are in the time immediately preceding Moshiach’s coming. Our generation will be the last generation of exile and the first generation of redemption.

In particular, at present, when the weekly Torah portions describe the construction of the Sanctuary, it is appropriate, in addition to one’s efforts to transform his own home into a sanctuary in microcosm, to arouse the desire for the Messianic redemption and the building of the Beis HaMikdash. This should also be expressed in actual deeds, which reflect in microcosm and thus hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption. This includes the study of the laws of the construction of the Beis HaMikdash and the service carried out within. It includes activities that make the world into a dwelling for G-d by establishing a connection between G-d and the material world through the fulfillment of mitzvos. This prepares the world for the era when it will become transformed into a dwelling for G-d with the coming of the Messianic redemption and the revelation of the third Beis HaMikdash.

3. There is added significance within the Chabad community because this week, Shabbos Parshas Truma, falls on the sixth of Adar, the yahrtzeit of the Rashag (Rav Shemaryahu Gourarie), the Rebbe Rayatz’s son-in-law, and the person appointed by the Rebbe Rayatz to be the director of Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim.

A yahrtzeit signifies a dramatic ascent for the soul. This ascent, however, also draws down influence to this earthly plane, and especially to those (in this instance, the students of Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim) who shared a connection with the person whose yahrtzeit it is

The Rashag’s primary activity was directing Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim. He acted with the power invested in him by the Rebbe Rayatz, the first director of the yeshiva, who was appointed to that position by the Rebbe Rashab, the founder of the yeshiva. We see the fruits of his efforts – a multitude of students involved in the study of Torah (Nigla as well as Chassidus) and spreading the wellsprings of Judaism and Chassidus outward.

These efforts are related to the concepts described above, since every yeshiva is "a Sanctuary in microcosm" and their activities cause the light to shine in an internalized and settled manner, as it will in the Beis HaMikdash of the Messianic era. In particular, there is a connection to the Messianic era, since the students of Tomchei Tmimim are characterized as "soldiers of the House of David," "candles to illuminate" the darkness of exile and hasten the coming of Moshiach.

The unity of the physical and spiritual, which characterizes the Sanctuary and its service, is also reflected in the fusion of Nigla and Chassidus as studied in the yeshiva. Nigla, the revealed aspects of Torah, is related to those aspects of G-dliness which are revealed through creation. Pnimiyus HaTorah, Chassidus, the soul of Torah, is related to the hidden dimensions of G-dliness, the G-dliness which transcends creation.

The fusion of these two branches of study in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim unifies the hidden aspects of Torah and the hidden aspects of G-d with the revealed aspects of G-d and Torah. This, in turn, generates the potential for the students of the yeshiva to become "candles to illuminate," who spread the light of Torah (Pnimiyus HaTorah) throughout the world. This makes it possible to "kindle a continuous light," to reveal the "candle of G-d which is the soul of man" in every Jew. This will illuminate the entire world and make it a dwelling for G-d. Through the spreading of Chassidus, even the highest dimensions of G-dliness will be revealed in the world at large.

The above is also connected with the ninth of Adar on which, this year, we will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Rebbe Rayatz’s arrival in America. Directly upon his arrival in this country, the Rebbe Rayatz transferred the central branch of Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim here. The establishment of the yeshiva in America is significant in the context of the statement "the Torah was not given in lower half of the world." Although, on the surface, establishing the Yeshiva in a place where "the Torah was not given" represents a descent, this descent brought about an increase in the Rebbe Rayatz’s activities. Indeed, it is evident that from the time the Rebbe Rayatz settled in the United States, his activities in spreading Yiddishkeit expanded greatly.

The service associated with Tomchei Tmimim is also reflected in the Rashag’s name, Shemaryahu ben Menachem Mendel. The name Shemaryahu contains three of the letters of the word neshama. The fourth letter, the Nun, can be formed by placing the letter Yud at the foot of the letter Vav. This is related to Pnimiyus HaTorah, "the soul of the Torah." This name is also connected with the Messianic redemption, as evidenced by the fact that it contains a Mem.

The connection to the Messianic redemption is also emphasized by the name, ben Menachem Mendel. Our Sages relate that Menachem is one of Moshiach’s names, and Mendel is numerically equivalent to Tzedek, also one of Moshiach’s names. In this context, the word "ben" should be interpreted as a definition of the individual’s nature as in the expression, "ben chorin" and not translated in its simple sense as meaning the "son of." Thus, "ben Menachem Mendel" alludes to one whose nature is characterized by the efforts to (spread Chassidus, which will) bring about Moshiach’s coming.

Today is also the day preceding the seventh of Adar, the birthday and the yahrtzeit of Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe Rabbeinu is associated with Torah. Indeed, the entire Torah, both the written and oral law, is described as "the Torah of Moshe." In addition, Moshe Rabbeinu is also associated with the Sanctuary.

It is appropriate that we increase in Torah study, and in particular, increase efforts to "gather people together on Shabbos to study Torah," a practice initiated by Moshe. Also, the yahrtzeit should be connected with the efforts to make "a Sanctuary in microcosm," as reflected by in an increase in Torah and mitzvos, and in particular, an increase in gifts to tzedaka.

The students of Tomchei Tmimim should increase their study of Torah, both Nigla and Chassidus, and also increase their efforts to be "candles that illuminate" and spread the light of Chassidus throughout the world. (In this context, it is appropriate that a Chassidic discourse which deals with the Messianic era and the concept of resurrection be printed in memory of the Rashag.)

May these efforts hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption when we will serve G-d in the third Beis HaMikdash, "the sanctuary of G-d, established by Your hands."


The essence of every Jew, even the most simple person, is connected with the essence of G-d through a fundamental bond that cannot be broken or interrupted.





"Ben Menachem Mendel" alludes to one whose nature is characterized by the efforts to bring about Moshiach’s coming.





The students of Tomchei Tmimim are characterized as "soldiers of the House of David," "candles to illuminate" the darkness of exile and hasten the coming of Moshiach.


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