In this week’s Parsha we talk about two concepts that end up related. One is about the commandment to make the Mishkan, where it says (Verse 8) “and they shall make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.” It should say that G-d will dwell in IT – in the sanctuary. Whey then does the verse say that G-d says He will dwell in “them”, a plural word? The commentators speak of this and give us multiple ways of valuing that word. One is the awareness we must have that each person is a sanctuary for G-d for there is a G-dliness that dwells within us, if we behave properly.
You also have the commandment to build the Aron – the Ark – in this week’s Torah portion. The Aron was made of three boxes, one inside the other – the inner one was pure gold, then came a wood layer, then came another layer of gold. The Aron held the Luchos, the commandments. We learn from the construction of the case that a person who wants to be a vessel for holiness should work on making his outside and inside equally gold. You can’t have behavior one way and thought another. Your heart and mind and your actions should the same gold. Inside your homes and outside on the street, the same high standards and refined behavior.
I was in the Emergency Room, doing the paperwork for admission for a relative. As I did so, the young woman helping me commented, “My best two teachers were Jewish. They were amazing. I still remember them. They were so kind and good.” She gushed on and on how two women had made a difference for her and in her life. I smiled and said, “I’m glad they represented my people right!”
My father used to tell us, “I’m a religious fanatic and proud of it.” He is, too. He would tell it like it was, never sugar-coating Torah for anyone. He would say it “straight up”. Yet, time and time again, folks who met him, would tell me, “Your father, now he’s a gentleman!” Gentle, caring, giving, loving.
Pure gold, inside and outside. That is how we have to be. For that is what allows a sense of G-dliness to exude from us, impacting the entire world around us. Just as the Mishkan was a place to bring G-d’s presence into this world, so too, YOU could be, for G-d told us, “v’shachantee b’sochum – I will dwell among them.”
May we all merit to house the Divine.