ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם.
“And you shall make for Me a sanctuary and I will rest among you.” (Shemos 25:8)
Hashem commanded the Jewish people to construct the Mishkan – the Sanctuary that accompanied the Jewish people in the wilderness.
Our sefarim write that this verse speaks to each and every person, commanding each one of us to make ourselves into a sanctuary for Hashem. We should purify ourselves to the degree that Hashem should be able to rest His shechina on us.
The soul is confined within the physical body, a situation that the soul finds extremely painful. The body can only fulfill its physical needs with the power of the neshama that gives it its life-force. Without the soul, the body cannot function. Why indeed did Hashem place a holy neshama inside a physical body, thereby setting the grounds for constant inner conflict between the soul’s lofty aspirations and the body’s animalistic cravings?
On Shabbos, every person receives an additional soul, the neshama yeseira which is reserved especially for Shabbos. This makes our previous question even more difficult. Since the body stifles the soul, why does Hashem send us an additional soul on Shabbos? Isn’t it hard enough for one soul to be confined in the physical body? Why would Hashem make the situation even more complicated?
The truth is that on Shabbos it is a mitzvah to enjoy physical pleasures, and therefore the soul is not in conflict with the body on this day. In fact, the soul can be elevated to great heights in this manner. Shabbos is a time of harmony between body and soul; the body becomes the perfect vessel for housing the Divine Presence.
This is the message of the verse: “Make for Me a sanctuary,” on Shabbos, we can become a complete and wholesome sanctuary for Hashem. The additional soul that we receive on Shabbos faces no conflict with the body, and our entire being becomes elevated together. The letters that make out the words ושכנתי בתוכם – and I will rest among you, can be rearranged to spell the words וכך יתנם בשבת – and so is being given on Shabbos. The verse is telling us that on Shabbos we have a very special opportunity to become a real sanctuary for Hashem.
“And you shall place on the table the Lechem Panim before Me always.”
Rashi explains: Why was the bread called Lechem Panim? Because it had a panim – a face.
The Zohar writes that bread is called lechem because it is the root of the word milchama– war. When a person sits down to eat, there is a war going on between the spiritual and unspiritual forces. If the person eats for personal pleasure, he feeds his animalistic inclination and not only is the food not elevated, but the sparks of spirituality that are hidden within the food may be destroyed. On the other hand, if a person eats with the proper intentions, to have the strength to serve Hashem, then not only does the food not draw him downward, but it elevates him to greater spiritual heights. And not only does the soul rise higher, but the body is also elevated, and the sparks of holiness that are in the food can reach their destinies. These sparks of holiness draw the person up along with them, and he becomes closer to Hashem.
This is the meaning of the verse. “And you shall place on the table the Lechem Panim.” Rashi tells us that the bread has panim – an appropriate appearance. If we will eat appropriately, with the proper intentions, then our eating will have the right panim – “face.” Hashem will then glow His panim – His holy countenance – upon us and we will be blessed with His love, Amen