“And let them build for Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8)
Here in this week’s portion God instructs the Children of Israel to build a Tabernacle which they carried with them as their portable sanctuary throughout the forty years of wanderings in the desert. This was the place where their sacrifices would be offered. It was here that Moses would meet God and seek God’s direction and advice. The Tabernacle was God’s home in the midst of the people. But, surely they understood that God’s presence was not held within this one small space. God’s presence can be seen in all the earth.
They saw God in the signs and wonders with which God freed them from Egypt, in the parting of the Red Sea, in the receiving of the Commandments on Mount Sinai, and as the pillar of fire and a pillar of smoke which led them on their journey to the Promised Land. God fed them with manna, protected them from danger, and commanded them toward righteousness ever step along their way. Surely, they saw God’s presence in their lives, in their world, in their hopes and in their dreams.
Finding God, hearing God’s voice, knowing how to be God’s people here upon this earth – these are not nearly as clear for us in our own lives today. God’s presence still pervades our world, but
“Where is the dwelling place of God?” The great chasidic master, Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, answered the question: “God dwells wherever we let God in.”