The Torah commands: “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” The sanctuary was intended to be, not a “home” for God, but a physical symbol of our quest to live in a “Godly” way.
But one of the things that I find compelling about Judaism is that majestic as any Jewish sanctuary may be, it is only through the presence of ten people with a Torah that a space becomes “holy.” And were we to gather in any of our homes for prayer, that room would be regarded as no less sacred than any sanctuary.
I would point out that in Judaism, the home is referred to as the Mikdash M’at-the sanctuary “in miniature.” Not in the sense of small or insignificant; but that important as was the sanctuary of which the Torah speaks, it is the home that is most sacred. It is in the home where we learn of the things that matter most in life. In the home where we learn of ideals and values we cherish. Yes, our homes are so “holy” in their potential to inspire and enhance us, to strengthen and sustain us.
I heard a very touching story this week from one of our congregants. She was a child growing up during the Depression, and she recalls that a rag peddler with a card would pass her apartment each day. Always, her mother would give the peddler a few coins for rags that she hardly needed; but also, she would bring him into the house and give him warm food.
No, our sages never wanted that the Sanctuary itself would come to define holiness, for they recognized that it is in our homes where we learn and experience the holy values and truths that are at the heart of Judaism.
Rabbi David Greenberg