Rabbi Yehoshua Weber

“My Shabboses you should keep and my sanctuary you should fear.”[1]

Here, as we conclude the sanctuary project, we juxtapose Shabbos and sanctuary.

It’s a juxtaposition that doesn’t just occur here.

It also occurs at the project’s beginning, where the possuk notes: “the seventh day is Shabbos…take donations (for the building of the mishkan).”[2]

Twice, then, we juxtapose Shabbos and sanctuary? Why?

It may be because of the similarities that Shabbos and the sanctuary share. Those similarities are in how activities and items that are permitted elsewhere, are prohibited both on Shabbos and in the sanctuary.

Work and ritually impure items exemplify those special Shabbos and sanctuary prohibitions. Work is prohibited on Shabbos, even though we’re allowed to work during the week. So too, it’s prohibited to use ritually impure items in the sanctuary, even though they’re permitted outside the sanctuary.

The special prohibitions indicate that Shabbos and sanctuary are more sanctified than the arenas that surround them.

Not that we don’t want to also sanctify those other places and spaces.

We do.

We’d love to sanctify all life.

We don’t, though, do that. Why not? Because, at least for now, it wouldn’t work. Because sanctifying all of life would force us to Shabbos and sanctuary-like rules to all of life. And we’re not holy enough to do that.

So we resign ourselves to second-best. We sanctity only those two small arenas, Shabbos and sanctuary. We do that because were strong enough to maintain elevated standards for two small blocs of space and place.

Those elevated standards aren’t, of course, meant to remain restricted to only these two arenas. They’re meant to be extended to all of life’s places and spaces

We begin, though, by trying to sanctify these two arenas. Success in these arenas will let us experience the feelings of exhilaration that sanctification begets. That may prompt us to seek out more exhilaration - and the spirituality that enables it – in other places and spaces. And success in these arenas will show us that we’re strong enough to maintain elevated standards - at least for these small blocs of place and space.

That demonstration of strength may encourage us to expand elevated standards to other arenas.

More specially, Shabbos’ sanctification of time can encourage us to expand sanctity to other times. Like those few minutes spent driving our child to school - which we can fill with warmth and love. Or that bit of time spent davening Maariv – when we can think about how we can talk to our creator, even in this temporal world. Or that bloc of quiet time with our spouse on Sunday morning – that can be made meaningful and soul-bonding.

And the sanctuary’s sanctification of place can encourage us to expand sanctity to other places. Like the table where we have our family meals - which we can make positive, happy and uplifting. Or our seat in shul - which can become a place of soul-inspiring tefilla.

And isn’t this truer yet of the joint sanctification of time and place that occurs at our Shabbos seudos? Those seudos happen on Shabbos - so they’re sanctifications of “time.” And they occur in our homes – our “small sanctuaries” [3] - so they’re sanctification of place. Shouldn’t we try to better those seudos? To not taint them with harsh acts. Or with angry words. Or, even, with negative thoughts. To fill them, instead, with positive interactions, thought-provoking discussion, insightful Torah and uplifting zemiros.

These sanctified templates, once experienced, will motivate us to sanctify other life arenas.

Sure, we’re meant to sanctify everywhere.

Lets begin, though, by sanctifying somewhere

Rabbi Weber is rav and founder of Ohr Tzvi Montebello-Monsey and is Rabbi Emeritus of Toronto’s Clanton Park Synagogue. Please visit his website, ohrtzvi.org, to sign up for his weekly email message, for information on his live or zoom shiurim or on having him as scholar in residence in your community. Please join his nightly amud yomi shiur at Yeshivas Toras Dovid, 69 Carlton Road in Monsey.

 [1] Vayikra 19:31

[2] Shemos 35:2-5

[3] See Melachim 2 11:2 where the sanctuary is called a “bedroom.” See Sotah 17a where we read that when husband and wife live together in love, the divine presence lives with them.

ove, the divine presence lives with them.

Copyright © Ohr Tzvi. All rights reserved.