The Torah In Haiku: T'rumah
Where is your "mikdash"?
Your place to commune with God
Is it physical?
And let them make Me a sanctuary ("mikdash") that I may dwell among them ("b'tocham")
Some of our congregations have magnificent structures in which to gather. Others have more modest buildings, or rent space in a local school, church or office building. Some smaller groups might meet in the homes of congregants.
Whatever the space looks like, it's important to have a gathering place. At first glance Parashah T'rumah, which includes the details for building the portable Tabernacle, is about that place. The mikdash is where God dwells among us, where Moses will meet with God (Exodus 25:22).
But there's another way to understand the word "b'tocham" in the verse cited above. As Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus wrote:
As magnificent as some of our sanctuaries are, and as inspiring as our places of worship are, we still understand that it is not the place where we find God that is of primary importance. The physical space is but one tool, one means of reaching the sacred. We all know people who claim that they find God in nature rather than within the walls of any building. Our tradition recognizes this as well, especially in the alternate reading of a verse from Malbim (Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel, a 19th Century commentator). He chose to read v'shachanti b'tocham, "I will dwell among them" as "I will dwell within them." He wrote: ". . . in them, the people, not in it, the sanctuary. We are each to build a Tabernacle in our own heart for God to dwell in.
Where is the "place" where you find God? Is it even physical?
Perhaps it is a frame of mind or a way of behaving.