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 Hallacha-Jewish Law.
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. DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.