They shall make for Me a (Mikdash) Sanctuary that I may dwell among them –
in conformance with all that I show you, the form of the (Mishkan)
Tabernacle and the form of all its vessels; and so you shall do! (Shemos 25:8-9)
Why is that portable structure to be built by the Jews in the desert
sometime referred to as a Mikdash and other times as a Mishkan? Why does the
verse insist, “and so you shall do”? The commandment was already given.
Rashi, troubled by the same question, answers, “For generations”. Simply we
are told that this was not a one-time event but a matter for all-time. Where
is our Mikdash our Mishkan today? How is it for “generations”?
According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch ztl the words Mikdash and Mishkan
represent two different aspect of that place which is to be the meeting
place for G-d and man. Mikdash reflects the notion of special dedication.
That is what the Children of Israel contribute individually and collectively
by engaging their hearts, their hands, and their possessions to carve out
from this world, in exquisite and specified detail, such a space for the
Living G-d of Israel.
The Mishkan is referring more to the result, after the doing by mankind.
When all of the consecration and construction, the consequence is that that
edifice then becomes a Mishkan, a “Divine Dwelling Place”..
The Mikdash is our doing and the Mishkan is what HASHEM does in response to
the invitation of our activity. It’s no wonder the Sages had stated, “Since
the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash there is nothing for Him in this world
except for the four cubits (where people are obediently observant) of
That Mishkan was a meeting place (Ohel Moed) where mankind prayerfully
reached out for G-d while at the same time G-d finally finds His welcome
location-location, location- in this otherwise hostile world. There He
communicates His will.. That was and that is the Mikdash, the Mishkan. How
is it “for generations” as well?
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), the sixth rebbe of
Chabad-Lubavitch, told the following: Once, after returning from a walk
with my father, he reminded me of a spot we passed---a busy street corner.
"At that spot," he said to me, "I suddenly had an extremely rich and
inspiring thought. I imagine that this is because a Jew once prayed minchah
(the afternoon prayer) at this spot." That Jew probably prayed with half a
mind, disturbed and jostled by the traffic on this busy street. Yet the holy
words of prayer purified the air so that when father passed that spot many
years later, his sensitive mind was stimulated to generate an especially
pure and refined idea.
Every step and breath we take, in this world, mindfully dedicated may
actually be making an everlasting impression.