The Jewish Home: A Microcosm of the Temple – Chapter 1

A Microcosm of the Temple

When a Jewish family enters a new home, it is customary to have a festive meal to initiate, or inaugurate the new house. This feast is reminiscent of the inauguration of the Temple. Every Jewish home is intended to be a mikdash me’at, a “miniature sanctuary and Temple.” As the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains, the consciousness in every Jewish home should be that of a microcosm of the Temple.

Every room in the home corresponds to some different area and the function that it served in the Holy Temple. The dining room is like the courtyard where the outer altar stood. Our Sages compare the table on which a Jew eats to the altar in the Temple. Each Jew, even though not a Priest and not living in the time of the Temple, is analogous to a Priest who partakes of the Temple sacrifices. The sacrifices were divided into various components. Some were “burnt offerings” on the altar, while others were eaten by the Priests. The act of the Priest eating of the offering would effect atonement for the person who brought the offering. Thus, the apparently mundane act of eating is actually spiritual and Divine.

(In a certain respect, when a person eats, he reflects that aspect of the sacrifice that was burnt on the altar. Any act of consuming is referred to as eating. The Torah refers to a fire as “eating,” aish ochla (Deuteronomy 4:24). To consume and to be burnt are identical concepts. The Hebrew word aish is an acronym for achila shtiya, eating and drinking. Fire both eats and drinks. When we eat, this reflects either the altar eating, or the Priest eating, or the eating of the person who brought the offering.)

The Holy of Holies is referred to in one place in the Torah (Kings 2, 11:2) as the “bedroom.” This was the home of the Divine Groom and Bride, which is G-d and Knesset Yisrael, the Shechinah.

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