Friday, 2 September, 2016 - 8:18 am


Camped at the bank of the Jordan River, while talking to the Jewish people in preparation for their entry into the Promised Land, Moses painted a beautiful picture of one place where all the Jewish people would gather to celebrate. No longer would every individual choose their own place to present an offering to G-d, instead there would be one place where all the people would unite in the service and celebration of the one G-d: 

And you shall cross the Jordan and settle in the land the Lord, your God, is giving you as an inheritance… And it will be, that the place the Lord, your G-d, will choose in which to establish His Name there you shall bring all that I am commanding you: Your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the separation by your hand, and the choice of vows which you will vow to the Lord. And you shall rejoice before the Lord, your God you and your sons and your daughters and your menservants and your maidservants, and the Levite who is within your cities.[1]

The phrase “the place the Lord your G-d will choose” appears no less than ten times in this Portion, the portion of Reah. The pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the festive holidays is a central theme in the portion, the Torah commands us how to celebrate, with whom to celebrate, but there is one glaring omission: “the place the Lord your G-d will choose” is left unnamed. 

Moses spent forty years teaching Torah, he passed on the Mitzvot with intricate detail. He transmitted the laws of the sacrifices with all its details, everything from what type of animals may be offered to the location on the temple where the animals should be offered. Yet the place where all this should happen is undisclosed. Why did Moses keep the location of the spiritual capital city of Israel a secret? Why does the name of the city where the Holy Temple will be built remain a mystery?

The answer can be found in the verse where the phrase “the place the Lord, your G-d, will choose” is used for the first time. The verse states: 

But only to the place which the Lord your God shall choose from all your tribes, to set His Name there; you shall seek his presence and come there.[2]

“You shall seek his presence”, says the Torah. G-d will choose Jerusalem only after the people themselves choose a place that they feel is appropriate for G-d's home. Only the Jew, who is part and parcel of the physical reality, can create a permanent dwelling place for G-d in this physical world. Only once King David chose the site of Jerusalem, did G-d, through the prophet, agree with the choice, making Jerusalem, and the Temple Mountain, the spiritual capital of the world.

The holiness of all the places that G-d chose for divine revelation was temporary. Neither the physical location of Mount Sinai nor the physical locations of the sanctuary in the desert - chosen directly by G-d - retained their holiness. The one place that was chosen by human beings, where they did not wait for a sign from on high, but rather they fulfilled the command to “seek his presence”, the place that was selected with human input, was the place that achieved permanent and everlasting holiness.

This is a life lesson for each one of us. The gifts we receive, from parents, friends, teachers, as well as inspiration received directly from G-d, will not have a permanent effect on our lives unless we choose to get involved, to become a partner, to contribute to the effort. To become the person we want to be, we cannot wait for inspiration from above. Inspiration alone will not change us for the better, unless we do our part to “seek his presence”.

G-d will choose to send you Divine inspiration and success, but it will have a permanent effect only after you do your part in building your spiritual Jerusalem.[3]



[1] Deuteronomy 12:10-12

[2] Ibid. 12:5

[3] Inspired by the teachings of the Rebbe, Lekutey Sichos vol. 30 p. 120. 

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