Today is February 23, 2019 -
This week a verse from the Torah reading emphasizes something we read about last week. We are told by God, “I will abide among the Israelites and I will be their God.” (Exodus 29:45) Here God will “abide” with our people and last week we also read a verse about where God will be found. It concerned the building of the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary used by our ancestors as they wandered from Egypt, “They shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in among them.” (Exodus 25:8) Both verses say that God does not dwell in a physical place, the Tabernacle, but with all the Israelites. We might have expected the verse from last week to read, “They shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in it,” but it does not. Nor do we read this week that “I will abide in the Israelite’s Sanctuary and I will be their God.” It says “I will abide among the Israelites…” One traditional commentator, the Malbim, (Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michael Wisser, 1809-1879) says “Make a sanctuary in the inner recesses of your heart, preparing yourself to be a dwelling place for God’s presence.” We do feel God’s presence more intensely at certain places, such as in Israel, and at certain times, such as life cycle events, or during the holidays. Yet here the verses and the commentary remind us that God can be with us in all places and at all times, if we let God in our hearts.