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Build The Temple Without Using Your Hands

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Monarch Butterfly

Where Is The True Temple and How Do We Build It, Day by Day?

A student asked a sage how they could know whether or not someone was a true Rabbi or teacher?

The sage replied, "See how happy they make their wife."

Jewish practice tells us that if we want to make our life beautiful, sacred and meaningful, we must turn every aspect of it into a Temple. Then our life becomes a sanctuary, not only for ourselves, but for all whom we encounter. This Sanctuary we are building is right within our hearts, our minds, deeds and relationships. Jewish practice offers direct guidance on how to do this. The Temple isn't somewhere else, it is up to you to build it daily, to make your life shining and real.

Judaism is not simply a set of beliefs, traditions and duties. Far from it. It is a daring, life giving, practice. Jewish practice is an incredible conversation with the Source of the universe, with those in our lives and with our own authentic self. This practice is clear, simple, direct, and available to all. It comes to offer true guidance and asks that we become whole, at one, that we walk our talk. Never has this practice been more badly needed than today.

Build the Sanctuary Without Using Your Hands is a Jewish koan. In Zen a koan is a question which has no logical or rational answer. Like life itself, there is no way to figure it out. Instead we live with koan and engage with it directly. Soon the koan becomes our flesh and bones as we learn to encounter our lives fully, rather than simply think about it.

Mitzvahs, one of the foundations of Jewish practice, are not good deeds. They are also koans, structures which allow us to channel divine energy, inspiration and wisdom into whatever appears in our lives. The more we engage with the mitzvahs, the more our understanding of them grows. Many mitzvahs instruct us how to build the Sanctuary in our lives. How to bring many offerings, including the offering of our heart and soul. As we bring light into what seems to be dark spaces, not only our lives but the earth, the world and lives of others also begin to shine.

Dr. Brenda Shoshanna

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