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VeZos HaBerachah

Please Tell Me What the Rebbe Said - Volume 3
Interpretations of the Weekly Torah Readings and the Festivals.
Based on the Talks of The Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.


by Malka Touger
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"Itzie, please read the next passuk and translate it," said Rabbi Gross.

Itzie read: "Vihayah hamakom asher yivchar HaShem E-lokeichem lishakein shmo sham.... 'And there will be a place in which HaShem your G-d will choose to cause His name to dwell. There you must bring everything I command you [to offer]: your burnt-offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes....' "

"That was a good translation, Itzie," answered Rabbi Gross. "Now let's take a closer look at the words of this passuk. What word does lishakein remind you of?"

"Mishkan," called out Dovie.

"Also the Shechinah, HaShem's Presence," said Yossie.

"Good," said Rabbi Gross, "the passuk is telling us that HaShem has chosen a special place 'lishakein shmo sham.' Where is that place, and what is it chosen for?"

"That's easy. It's the Beis HaMikdash," answered Yonah. "HaShem commanded us to build the Beis HaMikdash so that it would be the place where His Shechinah rests."

Mendy raised his hand, "Rabbi Gross," he asked. "In camp, we studied the Rambam's Hilchos Beis HaBechirah during the Three Weeks. I had to learn some halachos by heart, so I remember that the Rambam says, 'It is a mitzvah to build a house for HaShem, prepared for sacrifices to be brought.' The Rambam is saying that the purpose for building the Beis HaMikdash is so that we will have a place to bring our korbanos.

"This passuk seems to be saying that HaShem is choosing the Beis HaMikdash and making it holy so that He will have a place for the Shechinah. But then the passuk continues by saying the reverse: that because the Shechinah will be in the Beis HaMikdash, you should bring sacrifices there and not in any other place. So what is the main purpose for the Beis HaMikdash - a place for the Shechinah or a place to bring the korbanos?"

"Very good, Mendy. That's a real talmid chocham's question. You're pointing to a difference in opinion between the Rambam and the Ramban. The Rambam says, like you explained, that HaShem wanted us to build a Beis HaMikdash so that we can bring korbanos. The Ramban says that HaShem wanted us to build the Beis HaMikdash so that He would have a home for the Shechinah in our world. That's why the holiest part of the Beis HaMikdash was the Kodesh HaKodoshim, where the Shechinah rested."

"Rabbi Gross," said Mendy, "I can understand the Ramban's opinion - it seems to follow the passuk perfectly. But I don't understand how the passuk could fit in with the Rambam's opinion."

"Think, Mendy," said Rabbi Gross. "What name did the Rambam give these laws?"

"Hilchos Beis HaBechirah," Mendy answered.

"Hilchos Beis HaBechirah means 'the Laws of HaShem's Chosen House.' By choosing this name for these laws, the Rambam is clearly telling us that the Beis HaMikdash is 'a house for HaShem', a place for His Shechinah. The Rambam then tells us why HaShem wants His Shechinah to dwell in the Beis HaMikdash: so that we can bring sacrifices. Only in a place where the Shechinah is revealed can we serve HaShem by bringing the offerings. This explains how the Rambam's opinion fits well with the passuk."

(Adapted from Seek Out The Welfare of Jerusalem, p. 17ff)

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