Vort from the Rav: Terumah

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Ex. 25:8

וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָֽׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָֽם
And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.

According to Rav Chaim Volozhin, there is no truer Temple than the personality of the individual (Nefesh Hachaim 4:1). The Divine Presence resides within us. Conversely, sin involves the removal of God’s presence from within the individual. Because sin is equated to the destruction of the Temple, in a very real sense a sinner does to himself what the tyrants Nevuzaraden and Titus did to the two Temples. (Before Hashem, pp. 155-156).

God created the world to reside in it, rather than reside in transcendence. Man could have continually experienced Him instead of trying to infer His Presence through examining nature. But in the wake of the original sin by Adam and Eve, He retreated. And they heard the voice of the Lord God going in the garden to the direction of the sun, and the man and his wife hid from before the Lord God in the midst of the trees of the garden. (Gen. 3:8). These “footsteps” were those of God leaving the garden and departing into infinity. Had they not sinned, God would always have been close. Through Adam’s hiding and fear of communicating with God in the wake of his sin, God removed His Divine Presence.

The purpose of the tabernacle was to restore the relationship between man and God: And I will dwell in their midst. (Boston 1979)

About Arnold Lustiger

Dr. Arnold Lustiger is a research scientist and has edited multiple volumes of the Rav's Torah, including the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav.


  1. I couldn’t find the idea in Nefesh haChaim 4:1. Pointers please?

    The nearest I could think of 4:4, where Rav Chaim Volozhiner says that yir’as Shamayim is the silo that holds Torah.

  2. Arnie Lustiger

    I think that Gil is correct. I will iyH review my notes and if the answer is different I’ll write to Micha directly.

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