“And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. (Sh’mos 25:8)”
Our Sages point out that “I will dwell among them” can also be translated as “in them.” They explain that each individual Jew is meant to be a sanctuary for the Sh’chinah, Hashem’s presence in the world. In fact, the Jew (and by extension, his home, shul, and community) is the real Beis HaMikdash on which the physical building was modeled.
When the Beis HaMikdash stood, Yidden from all walks of life basked in the presence of the Sh’chinah the instant they walked through its gates. Even from afar, one was greeted by the Holy Light emanating from its windows. Every nuance of the structure, including those who did the avodah within it, were there by Divine design for the Jewish pilgrims who came throughout the year, to stir up feelings of awe and an intense inner yearning to return to God.
Just as anyone who came to the Beis HaMikdash immediately became aware of Hashem’s Presence and was motivated to do t’shuvah, so too there is a Divine light within every Jew, the inner Cheilek Elokah MiMaal that can shine out, inspiring those around them to return to their Creator.
(Material was previously published on www.ShiratMiriam.com.)