Official vs Personal Ritual Observance

February 27, 2009

EnglishWhich kind of religious observance or experience is primary, the national, or the personal? Likewise, is the observance of the Law primary, despite the fact that it may take on a mechanical form, or the developing of deep religious feelings, buttressed by esoteric teachings?

Clearly, the dominant form of Jewish worship since the destruction of the second Beit haMiqdash has been personal, as the national cultic centre had been destroyed. And Judaism’s emphasis on laws, while not denying the role of religious experiences and concomitant emotions, clearly puts more weight on observance of the Law. But how are we to reconcile this attitude with the commandment to create a sancturay, as stated in Parshat Teruma וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתֹוכָם׃ – let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them (Shemot 25:8)?

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