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What does hashra’as ha’schechinah mean?

Written by D Fine

One of the main goals of the mishkan/mikdash is making HaShem’s Shechinah rest there (hashra’as haShechinah) – and this is exactly what happens at the end of Peudei. On a simple level, what exactly does this mean? On a deeper level, we know that HaShem created everything, and ‘He is everywhere;’ in order for anything to survive it must be connected to Him. If so, what does it mean that HaShem rests ‘more’ in the mishkan/mikdash; He is everywhere and everything, so how can we say that He rests/resides ‘more’ in one place than another? In asking these questions, we are essentially touching on the goal/aim of the mikdash itself.
These are two very deep questions, and I’m sure there are equally deep answers out there. We are going to cite a passage from the Sefer Hachinuch (mitzvah 95) who deals with this issue at the ‘pshat’ level, as he himself says.

The Sefer Hachinuch begins by pointing out that the Beis Hamikdash (/mishkan) is not for HaShem; He does not need a nice house with gold, silver, and wooden ‘furniture;’ He owns the world and all the riches in it. Rather, the midkash must be for us. How so? The Sefer Hachinuch goes on to explain that HaShem wants to give good (tov) to us, which comes as a result of the mitzvos we do; as the pasuk says ‘and now Yisrael, what does HaShem your G-D ask from you…to observe the mitzvos of HaShem and His statutes which I command you today, in order to provide you with good.’ The Ramchal deepens this point by explaining that HaShem wanted us to work for our reward, via performing mitzvos (and not that HaShem just gives everyone reward no matter how little they have accomplished in this world), in order that we should not feel ashamed at getting a ‘free gift;’ He wants us to feel like we earned/deserve the reward we get. Anyway, to the extent that we perform mitzvos and have managed to purify ourselves, is the extent that we get this ‘good.’ The more mitzvos we do, both in terms of quality and quantity, the more we purify ourselves [and points mean prizes!]. Now, the mikdash was chosen as theplace where there could be the purification of one’s personality. In the words of the Sefer Hachinuch, it is the place in which ‘there, our personalities (‘sichleinu’) reach up in connection with HaShem’s Personality.’ And this is ‘the resting of HaShem’s Shechinah.’

In other words, the mikdash is a place where we can feel most exposed to spirituality and feel like one is in HaShem’s Presence. This is predominantly as a result of the many mitzvos performed there, but also because of the inate holiness of the place.

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