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Publisher's Foreword











Ki Sisa






The Chassidic Dimension - Volume 5
Interpretations of the Weekly Torah Readings and the Festivals.
Based on the Talks of The Lubavitcher Rebbe,
Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.


Compiled by Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg, Edited by Sichos In English

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Eternal Sanctuary

"Wherever the verse states 'li' ('for Me')," says the Sifri,[262] "it endures forever and ever ... regarding the Mikdash (Sanctuary) the verse states,[263] 'Make for Me -- 'li' -- a Mikdash' [thus implying that the Mikdash is eternal]." The Midrash similarly states:[264] "Wherever the verse states 'li' it is immutable, both in this world and in the World to Come ... regarding the Mikdash the verse states, 'Make for Me a Mikdash."

The Tzemach Tzedek explains[265] the immutability of the Mikdash in the following manner: "The verse states,[266] 'I shall be for you a minor Mikdash.' Our Sages explain[267] that this refers to Battei K'nesiyos (Houses of Prayer). Thus, it -- Mikdash -- remains immutable in this world as well."

There are quite a number of commentaries regarding the above statements of the Sifri and Midrash. Among them: a)[268] "With regard to the Mikdash and Mizbeiach (Altar) ... they endure forever in the place where they were concealed...." b)[269] Although the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, the sanctity of the site remains. As the Rambam writes:[270] "The sanctity of the Mikdash ... results from [the indwelling of] the Divine Presence, and the Divine Presence is immutable. Thus the verse states,[271] 'I shall ravage your Sanctuaries,' and our Sages comment,[272] 'Though they are desolate, they retain their sanctity.'"

While, according to both explanations the Mikdash itself endures, according to the Tzemach Tzedek's explanation it only endures through Battei K'nesiyos, which are merely similar to and are minor versions of the Mikdash. Why, then, does the Tzemach Tzedek choose to provide another explanation, when seemingly more satisfactory explanations are already available?

We may say that the Tzemach Tzedek was not satisfied with the first explanation since it only corresponds to the comment of the Sifri, that the Mikdash endures. It does not, however, conform to the Midrashic statement that the Mikdash is immutable, i.e., it didn't move from its place. For according to this commentary the Mikdash did indeed move -- its place of concealment differs from its original location.

Why, however, wasn't the Tzemach Tzedek comfortable with the second explanation, that the immutability of the Mikdash lies in the fact that the site of the Mikdash retained its sanctity, since "the Divine Presence is immutable." In this instance we are speaking of the actual physical site of the Mikdash, a site whose holiness endures.

In explaining the words of the Sifri that "Wherever the verse states 'li' it endures forever and ever," the Rambam comments:[273] "This means to say that it is an eternal commandment and not simply a short-lived one; indeed, it is appropriate and mandatory upon all generations." Thus, "endures forever," does not simply mean that (only) the Mikdash itself endures, rather, the individual's responsibility and commandment to build the Mikdash also is eternal.

This is why the Tzemach Tzedek was not content with the second explanation as well: the second explanation only relates to the eternal sanctity of the site of the Mikdash, but not to the personal eternal obligation of constructing a Mikdash.

Since according to the Rambam the obligation of "Make for Me a Mikdash" is constant, we must perforce say that now as well there is an obligation to occupy ourselves in the construction of the Mikdash. But how can that be, when we are presently not permitted to erect the Mikdash?

We accomplish this[274] through studying the laws in the Torah pertaining to the Beis HaMikdash, as well as the laws pertaining to its manner of construction and appearance, etc. For inasmuch as we are presently unable to physically construct the Beis HaMikdash, we at least retain the aspect of occupying ourselves in its construction through studying the laws of the Mikdash.

Truly, this is the intent of the Midrashic statement[275] that when Jews occupy themselves in the study of the features of the Beis HaMikdash, G-d regards it as if they were involved in its actual construction.

According to the above, we can understand the Sifri quite simply: The obligation "Make for Me a Mikdash" is constant, since nowadays as well we fulfill this commandment through studying the multi-faceted laws of the Beis HaMikdash.

The Tzemach Tzedek, however, chose not to cite this explanation, since he makes reference to the Midrash which states, "Wherever the verse states 'li' it is immutable," i.e., according to the Midrash there is absolutely no difference between the past and present state of accomplishing "Make for Me a Mikdash":

It is self-understood that studying the laws of the Mikdash does in fact engender a change in the manner of performing the commandment: previously it was accomplished through erecting a physical edifice; presently it is fulfilled through the study of these laws.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, pp. 123-125.

"High Stakes, Or Low"

The Torah Portion Terumah concludes with the statement: "The stakes [for the Mishkan -- the Tabernacle -- itself] and all the stakes for the courtyard shall be made of copper."[276]

Rashi[277] explains that the stakes were similar to copper pegs. The bottoms of the curtains of the Mishkan and courtyard were tied to these stakes with ropes, so that they would not blow in the wind.

Rashi continues: "It isn't clear [from the verse itself] whether they [the stakes] were imbedded in the ground or [merely] tied [to] and suspended [from the curtains], with their weight weighing down the bottom of the curtains, so that they would not blow in the wind. [However,] I say that their name [-- "stakes" --] indicates that they were imbedded in the ground, for which reason they are called "stakes". The following verse[278] supports me: 'A tent that shall not be moved, its stakes shall never be uprooted.'"

Chassidus explains[279] that while the Beis HaMikdash was primarily built from inanimate matter, the Mishkan was mainly composed of vegetative and animals materials. And although it is self-understood that the indwelling of the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, permeated the inanimate ground of the Mishkan as well, nevertheless, the ground was not as sacred as the hangings and the boards:

The hangings and the boards were intrinsically holy, while the sanctity of the earth and ground of the Mishkan derived solely from the Mishkan (the hangings and boards) being lodged upon it; after the Mishkan was dismantled the ground the Mishkan stood upon failed to retain its previous measure of sanctity.

In this sense the Beis HaMikdash was superior to the Mishkan: regarding the Beis HaMikdash the very ground itself -- and according to many opinions this was so even after the Beis HaMikdash was razed to the ground -- was intrinsically sacred.[280]

It remains to be clarified, however, what was the actual magnitude of the ground's sanctity while the Mishkan stood upon it. This will depend on the two opinions as to the placement of the stakes:

If the stakes were "[merely] tied [to] and suspended [from the curtains], with their weight weighing down the bottom of the curtains, so that they would not blow in the wind," then the sanctity of the Mishkan's ground was of a lesser degree, as the ground was not directly impacted by the actual Mishkan -- the Mishkan merely stood upon it, but the ground itself was in no way actually connected to the rest of the Mishkan.

However, according to the opinion that the stakes were actually "imbedded in the ground," the sanctity of the Mishkan permeated physically -- and thus spiritually as well -- the very ground of the Mishkan.

Moreover, the fact that the Mishkan was so securely moored -- "A tent that shall not be moved" --directly resulted from the ground of the Mishkan, for it was the actual ground that caused the Mishkan to be immutable. As such, the ground was directly responsible for the Mishkan's greater degree of sanctity (in comparison to the Mishkan's sanctity in its dismantled state).

The sanctity of the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash affected and illuminated the entire world.[281] Clearly, the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash gave each and every Jew the strength to draw down G-dliness and holiness -- through their internal Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash, for G-d dwells within each individual Jew ("I shall dwell within them"[282]) -- into the entire world. Moreover, similar to the Beis HaMikdash, this is accomplished in a permanent and internal manner.

This teaches us, that every Jew, wherever he may be,[283] is able to purify and refine his portion of the world, permeating it with holiness in an inner and lasting manner, similar to the sanctity of the Beis HaMikdash.

This helps us understand the saying of our Sages,[284] that "The Houses of Prayer and Houses of Study of the Diaspora are 'miniature Holy Temples,' to be taken with us to Eretz Yisrael in the Time to Come:" Through their prayer and Torah study, Jews draw down holiness even within their physical homes themselves.

For the sanctity of the sacred words of prayer and Torah so permeates these Houses of Prayer and Houses of Study -- as well as Jewish homes in general where these and similar spiritual actions take place -- that ultimately all these edifices are taken along with us to Israel, notwithstanding the fact that they are merely composed of the stone, wood and earth[285] of the land mass of the Diaspora.

Furthermore, by sanctifying our own portions of the world, we prepare it for the time when "Jerusalem will spread out over the entire Eretz Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael will spread out over the entire world,"[286] and within the whole world there will be felt a semblance of the sanctity that pervades the Beis HaMikdash. At that time, the entire world -- similar to the Beis HaMikdash[287] -- shall be G-d's primary dwelling.[288]

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, pp. 162-168.



  1. (Back to text) Behaalos'cha 11:16.

  2. (Back to text) Shmos 25:8.

  3. (Back to text) Vayikra Rabbah 2:2.

  4. (Back to text) Or HaTorah, Terumah, p. 1442. See also p. 1425, ibid.

  5. (Back to text) Yechezkel 11:16. See also Rashi and Targum ibid.

  6. (Back to text) Megillah 29a.

  7. (Back to text) Yefei To'ar on Vayikra Rabbah, ibid.

  8. (Back to text) See Sifri d'Vei Rav; Toldos Adam and Zera Avraham on Sifri, ibid.

  9. (Back to text) Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 6:14-16.

  10. (Back to text) Vayikra 26:31.

  11. (Back to text) Megillah 28a.

  12. (Back to text) Sefer HaMitzvos, Positive Mitzvah 176.

  13. (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, XVIII, p. 412ff., and sources cited there.

  14. (Back to text) Tanchuma, Tzav 14.

  15. (Back to text) Shemos 27:19.

  16. (Back to text) Ibid.

  17. (Back to text) Yeshayahu 33:20.

  18. (Back to text) Torah Or, beginning of Vayigash; Likkutei Torah, Berachah 94d ff.; see also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, pp. 17, 20-21.

  19. (Back to text) See Megillah 10a and additional sources cited there.

  20. (Back to text) See Tanchuma, Behaalos'cha 2; Vayikra Rabbah 31:7; Bamidbar Rabbah 15:2.

  21. (Back to text) Shemos 25:8

  22. (Back to text) See Shabbos 15b; Rambam, Hilchos Tumas Mes, beginning of ch. 11.

  23. (Back to text) Megillah 29a.

  24. (Back to text) See Nega'im 12:2.

  25. (Back to text) See Sifri, Devarim 1; Shir HaShirim Rabbah 7:4(3); Pesikta Rabbah, ch. Shabbos v'Rosh Chodesh; Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshayahu, Remez 503.

  26. (Back to text) See Melachim I, 8:13, and Rashi, Vayeitzei 30:20.

  27. (Back to text) See Tanya, beginning of ch. 36; beginning of discourse Basi LeGani 5710.

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