ונתתי משכני בתוככם


בס”ד

לשכנו תדרשו

Cleaving to the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land

ונתתי משכני בתוככם

“May it be Your Will our Father, our King… remember our love and endearment, return the Holy Presence to our Holy Temple and return to have delight in us as in yore, for Your separation from us is difficult to us like the separation of our souls from our bodies; our innards long, and our souls yearn for the redemption of Your Holy Presence, for Your Holy Abode, and for Your Will HaShem we long…” (Prayer of the Holy Or HaHaim( Our title quote teaches us that indeed HaShem promises us to place His Abode of Presence, the “Mishkan”, the same verb root of the Holy Presence – Shechina, among us, when we do His Will. The interesting term here “Mishkan”, instead of “Mikdash” – “Temple”, brought some commentaries to interpret this verse more generally than referring to the Temple alone. For example, the Sforno interprets this verse to refer to the resting of the Holy Presence in every place where “God’s Name is called”. Indeed, numbers of sources show that even  in the absence of the Temple there are places which still contain the glow of the Temple to a certain extent. Of course there are the “mini-sanctuaries” (Ezekiel 11, 16), i.e synogogues, where HaShem rests His Presence, albeit in a more limited way, even in the farthest reaches of the Diaspora. However, there is also an intermediate level of the Temple’s glow of sanctity that is connected to the Land of Israel and is explicitly mentioned as being the tenth, and lowest level of gradations stemming from the Holy of Holies in the Temple. This tenth  level is present, according to the Mishna of Kelim (ch. 1), in the walled cities of the Land of Israel. In such cities the law is that no leper may enter their vicinity, similar to sanctified Jerusalem (9th gradation of Temple sanctity discussed last week), City of the Temple. Joshua sanctified these walled cities of the Land of Israel conquered in his time to take on the same status as of the “Israelite Encampent” from which lepers were excluded in the Wildreness, and which parrarels “Sanctified Jerusalem”. Therefore, it seems that Hebron too was sanctified, since at Joshua’s conquest it was a walled city, even though later on its wall was demolished in order that Hebron conduct as a Refuge City (we discussed this in numbers of issues in the past especially in regard to Purim).  We may explain the sanctity of specifically “walled” cities as being due to the Arizal’s teaching that there is a spiritual energy connected to a surrounding wall that parallels the same type of spiritual energy attributed to Jerusalem. We may also gain meaning into the exclusion of specifically lepers from such cities as expressing the high importance of peace and unity in such holy cities. Our Sages teach that one of the more dominant Divine reasons an individual becomes a Torah-ordained leper (to be distinguished from medical ‘leporosy’ of today) is due to the sin of slander. So our Sages teach, that “since he (the leper) separated between husband and wife and between man and his fellowman (through his slander), therefore he shall be himself be separated (from the community to lay solitary outside the (walled) city)” (Erchin 15b). This crucial factor in the wholesomeness of the holy cities of the Land of Israel highlights how they essentially stem from the two holiest cities of the Holy Land, Jerusalem, the City of Peace (Salem means wholeness/peace), and also Hebron, the City of Unity (Hebron means unity – ‘hibur’).

Real Stories from the Holy Land: “One time I was late on coming to guard (as a soldier in the IDF). I was supposed to be taken to trial

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *