There is a remarkable sentiment that appears only twice in all of Chumash.

After the Torah details the consequences for even unintentional murder, it appeals to the nation, not to contaminate the Land for which you dwell, in whose midst I dwell, for I am Hashem Who rests among the Children of Israel.(במדבר לה לד)

The simple reading of this verse would seem be a warning not to defile the Land that G-d dwells in its midst, lest one cause G-d to leave.

In fact, the Talmud derives precisely that, informing us that the sin of ‘spilling blood’ compels the Divine Presence to depart. (שבת לג.)

Rashi, however, interprets the verse according to another source in the Talmud that understands the verse to be informing the populace how they should realize that when they contaminate the Land they are ‘sullying’, as it were, G-d Himself, since G-d will never detach His presence from His children, even choosing to dwell amidst their proverbial muck.(יומא נו:)

This echoes the words of the verse elsewhere that extols how G-d ‘dwells with them amid their contamination’. (ויקרא טז טז)

It would seem that G-d is prodding them through guilt, making them aware of how their actions not only dirty their own souls but soil G-d Who is ever-present with them.

Will those who carelessly disregard the rights of others, defiling the land with their casual attitudes, be aroused to vigilance by this sentiment of guilt?

Perhaps what the Torah is seeking to convey is that no matter how far we have fallen, no matter how contaminated we have become, the love G-d has for us is unconditional and unwavering. His constant presence, even in the middle of impurity, is testament to His indomitable devotion and care for us.

The Midrash describes two variations of G-d’s presence.

Hashem is in the abode of His holiness, Hashem in heaven is His throne. (תהלים יא ד)

Prior to the destruction He dwelled in the Temple, afterward His throne ascended to Heaven.

My eyes and My heart shall be there at all times. (מלכים א ט ג)

G-d’s attentive presence will never leave the Temple. (ש"ר ב ב)

Of course, as the Talmud states, the simple implication of the verse is that G-d’s dominion, His throne, will relocate to heaven. This refers to the cessation of G-d’s evident presence, that was obvious during the times when the Temple stood, that displayed before the world His absolute control of world and natural events.

But when we came up short and were no longer deserving of that public affection that was so apparent in the course of our history, G-d ‘departed’ from that stage and now manipulates His world behind a veil of nature and happenstance.

Nevertheless, He assures us that we can never shake Him off. His love, His devotion, His commitment is unshakable. It never wanes and only intensifies in His desire to capture our hearts back.

In the absence of the Mikdash in Yerushalayim, as we endure the thousands of years of galus we recreate a miniature one, our Shuls, seeking to restore a semblance of His tangible presence.  

By joining together in prayer, learning and chesed; celebrating each other’s simchos and accomplishments; sharing in one another’s pain - we represent the ‘eyes and the heart’ of G-d. In this inspired quest to emulate the unparalleled concern He harbors for each one us, we hope it will merit that we too, will sense His palpable presence that enthuses all our interactions.

As we celebrate our twelfth anniversary, I believe that every one of us can attest to those moments when indeed Hashem’s blessing, support and very being was present and felt.

It is a testament to the marvelous members of this special kehillah.

May Hashem continue to bestow us with good health, yiddishe nachas, prosperity, good cheer and camaraderie in bringing honor to His Name and promoting His will in all that we endeavor.


צבי יהודה טייכמאן