God Is Wherever We Let Him In

Yael Eckstein  |  February 1, 2022

Welcoming the sun at dawn

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. — Exodus 25:8

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Terumah, which means “contributions,” from Exodus 25:1–27:19.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, known to this day as the Kotzker Rebbe, was one of the greatest Hasidic rabbis of the 19th century. There is a simple yet powerful teaching of his that I want to share with you. There are many versions of this story, as it is said to have repeated itself many times during his lifetime of teaching and leading his flock.

The Kotzker Rebbe asked his students a simple question: “Where is God?” One student answered, “Rebbe, God is in heaven, as the Bible says, ‘Look down from the heaven, Your holy dwelling place.’” (Deuteronomy 26:15). A second student disagreed, thinking he would have the answer that would please the Rebbe. “No. God is not only in heaven, He fills the earth as well, as the Bible says, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ (Isaiah 6:3)”

The Kotzker Rebbe shook his head. “Hear me well, my students. God is wherever you let Him in.”

God Is Wherever We Let Him In

In this week’s Torah portion, God told Moses to instruct the nation of Israel to build the Tabernacle, the portable Temple used in the desert and later at Shiloh. Many times in the Bible, both the Tabernacle and the Temple built by Solomon are referred to as “the house of God” (1 Samuel 3:15, Isaiah 56:7).

But here in Exodus 25:8, if we read carefully, we see that God did not say that He will live in the Tabernacle: “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” Notice that God did not say “and I will dwell in it.” Rather, God said He would dwell among “them.”

In other words, God does not live in the Temple. When we build the Temple, we honor God. We show Him that we want Him to be among us. God said that if we build the Temple to honor and serve Him, He will dwell among us, in every aspect of our lives, wherever we let Him in.

Your Turn:

Remember that God does not live in the church. Make a point of worshipping God at home, at work, and everywhere you go.

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