By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
Everyday, at the end of Shemone Esrei, we part from Hashem with the request, “Yehi ratzon milfonecha, Hashem Elokeinu, she’yibonei Beis HaMikdash bimheira biyomeinu – May it be Your will HaShem, that You rebuild the Temple speedily in our days.” The desire to have the Beis HaMikdash stems from the fact that we want once again for HaShem to reside in our midst for when we had the Temple, the posuk testifies, “V’asu li Mikdash v’shochanti b’socham – Make for Me a sanctuary that I may dwell amongst you.”
We must know, however, that Rav Avigdor Miller, Zt”l, Zy”a, in his sefer on Bamidbar, teaches that the real goal of the Temple is to train us that our minds should be a sanctuary, namely, that HaShem should reside always in our thoughts. With this theme, Rav Miller explains a Gemora in Masechtas Brochos  which states, “Kol mi she’yesh lo dei’a k’ilu nivne Beis HaMikdash b’yomov – Whoever has knowledge, it is as if the Temple is built in his day.” What is the connection between personal knowledge and the Holy Temple? The answer is that dei’a refers to the true knowledge of awareness of Hashem, as the verse states, “Hein yiras Hashem hi chochma – Behold the awareness of HaShem is wisdom.” So, too, does it teach, “Reishis chochma yiras Hashem – The very first of wisdom is awareness of Hashem (because the word ‘yirei’ at times means ‘to see’). Thus, a person who has the dei’a of being cognizant of HaShem has made himself a veritable Temple where G-d constantly resides.
This also explains another famous Talmudic dictum, “Gedolah misas tzadikim k’serefas Beis Elokeinu – Weighty is the death of the righteous like the burning of the Temple,” which again conveys the same message that the righteous person who lives with HaShem constantly in his thoughts is analogous to the Temple and thus his death is synonymous with the burning of the Beis HaMikdash.
I believe that this is the meaning of kedushah, holiness. Before we make a bracha, we often voice the sentiment, “Asher kidishanu b’mitzvosav – That He sanctifies us with His commandments.” What is the nature of this holiness? The answer is that it means a heightened awareness of Hashem. Since when we do something because G-d commanded us to do so, it makes us more aware of HaShem in our lives.
It is for this awareness that we pray for in our very first request everyday in the Shemone Esrei. Namely, “Atah chonein l’adom da’as – You grant a person true knowledge.” I believe, therefore, it is no coincidence that this bracha follows right on the heels of the blessing of holiness, “HaKeil HaKadosh,” because when a person achieves this awareness, he has achieved a level of holiness and this pursuit is the main pursuit of life. As Moshe Rabbeinu himself said, “Ma HaShem Elokecha sho’eil me’imach, ki im l’yirah – What does Hashem ask from you but that you should see Him.”
It dawned on me, with the help of HaShem, an incredible etymological revelation. The word ‘chaim,’ which means life, is an anagram of two words ‘moach’ and ‘Yud-Yud,’ which means that we should have HaShem in our brains. This indicates that this goal, constantly having an awareness of HaShem, is the essence of chaim, life. Further, the gematria of the word chaim is sixty-eight, which has the same numerical value as the word ‘chacham,’ a wise person, for it is true wisdom to be aware of HaShem at all times.
In a similar vein, when a choson tells his kallah under the chupah, “Harei aht m’kudeshes li – You should be sanctified to me,” he is expressing the sentiment that he will keep her in his mind always. As Reb Yakov Kamenetsky, Zt”l, Zy”a, advises brides and grooms, from the moment of the chupah onwards they should cease to think in terms of ‘I.’ Rather, from then onward, it should always be in terms of ‘we.’
Getting back to the sanctuary of our mind, Hashem has given us a body of laws known as eidus/testimonials, to aid us in keeping Him in our thoughts. Thus, the Mezuzah confronts us upon entering every room and before we engage in most occupations to remind us that Hashem is watching us in whatever we do. Likewise, Tefillin on our hand and our heads is supposed to stir us to keep Him in our hearts and in our minds. The Tzitzis are to remind us that we are members of HaShem’s hosts and the yarmulke, which is a corruption of the words ‘Yorei Malka – To be aware of the King,’ is to jog our memories about this all-important wisdom. When we live with HaShem, not only are we fulfilling the purpose of the world, as it states, “She’hakol bara lichvodo – Everything was created for His honor,” we also ensure that we will be properly inhibited from doing any sins. Finally, the discipline of thinking of HaShem often promises us longevity as it states, “Yiras Hashem tosef yomim – Awareness of Hashem adds length to one’s days.” May it be the will of HaShem that in the merit of keeping Him on our minds, may He bless us all with long life, good health, contentment, and everything wonderful.
Start the cycle of anytime Mishna Yomis with Rabbi Weiss by dialing 718.906.6471. Listen to Rabbi Weiss’s daily Shiur on Orchos Chaim l’HaRosh by dialing 718.906.6400, then going to selection 4 for Mussar, and then to selection 4. Both are FREE services.
Rabbi Weiss is currently stepping up his speaking engagements. To bring him to your community, call 718.916.3100 or email RMMWSI@aol.com.
Rabbi Weiss’s Rebbetzin, Shoshy Weiss, LCSW-R is moving her therapy practice from Monroe and Monsey to Boro Park and Staten Island. She will be in Boro Park on Mondays and Staten Island on Tuesdays. She caters to women and girls only and specializes in the treatment of anxiety, low self-esteem issues, depression, trauma, and relationship enhancement. She is a specialist in E.M.D.R. and I.F.S (Internal Family Systems) and D.B.T. (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). She has been practicing for over two decades. To get a slot, call or text 845.270.3699.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
To receive a weekly cassette tape or CD directly from Rabbi Weiss, please send a check to Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, P.O. Box 140726, Staten Island, NY 10314 or contact him at RMMWSI@aol.com.