In this week´s Parsha, Bnai Yisrael are commanded to donate gifts for the construction of the Mishkan (tabernacle). A few verses later they receive the commandment “ve´assu li mikdash” (“they shall make a Sanctuary for me”), “veshachanti btocham” (“and I will dwell amongst them”). (25:8) Following these commandments the Torah describes in great detail how each of the vessels should be built.
The Or Hachayim asks why the Torah states “and you shall make a MIKDASH (Sanctuary) for me”, and then in the next verse it says “Tavnit HaMISHKAN”, “the form of the Tabernacle…so shall you do”. Are we talking about the Mikdash (Sanctuary) or the Mishkan (Tabernacle)? The Or Hachayim writes that the commandment to make a Mikdash for G-d is not only referring to the time when Bnai Yisrael were in the desert, but includes all of Jewish history from the time that we were in the desert to the time that we entered Eretz Yisrael. He writes that when the Jewish people are in Eretz Yisrael, and even in a time of Galut, the Mitzvah to build the Mikdash still applies. How can we accomplish this in our time?
We can look to the Malbim for the answer. The Malbim, in his work entitled Remazey Hamiskan, Illusions of the Sanctuary, explains that we each have to build inside of ourselves a Mikdash, that each one of us must provide a residence for Hashem´s presence. He equates the Mikdash to the human body; the Aron, the Holy Ark, is similar to the human mind, for it is there that wisdom emanates. He compares the Lechem Hapanim, the Show Bread, to our heart as both provide life and sustenance, and he equates the Mizbaiach, the Alter which consumes offerings, to the stomach, which absorbs food.
How must we build the Mikdash within ourselves, and the rest of Klal Yisrael? We can find hints to this in the design of the Aron, the Holy Ark. The top of the ark is described as follows: “Veassita shnayim Kruvim zahav” (“And you shall make two Kruvim of gold” (25:18). Why would Hashem command us to make the image of the Kruvim when we are not allowed to have any graven images? Rashi explains that the “Kruvim” had the faces of young children. Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik Z”TL learnt from here that educating children is the foundation for the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, to dwell among us, since the children are the guardians of the Torah and the security of maintaining the Jewish people as an eternal nation.
The Gemarah in Yomah (72b) states that the symbolism behind the ark´s specifications to be covered both on the outside and the inside with gold, is to teach us that a Torah scholar should not be someone who just speaks the wisdom of the Torah on the outside, but is one who internalizes his wisdom and lives his life according to the Torah. The same message applies to all of the Jewish people, regarding ones Middot, deeds and actions. The way one acts outside ones home in the public eye must be the same way one acts in the privacy of one´s home. By monitoring our actions and filling ourselves with the knowledge of Torah and Mitzvoth, we can surely build a Mikdash inside of ourselves, which in turn will elevate the spiritual level of the Jewish people. In this way we will finally be able to build both the spiritual and physical Bait Hamikdash and Hashem´s presence will one again dwell amongst us in our home in Yerushalayim.