Awe of the Temple

"Keep My days of Shabbat and stand in awe of My Temple." What do Shabbat and the Temple have in common? Both relate to the sense of sight.

The verse "Keep My days of Shabbat and stand in awe of My Temple, I am God" ('את שבתתי תשמרו ומקדשי תיראו אני הוי) appears identically twice in the Torah. The initial letters of the verse's 7 words (א ש ת ו ת א י) equals 1118 = "Hear O Israel, Havayah is our God Havayah is one" (שמע ישראל הוי' אלהינו הוי' אחד), our declaration of faith, which we are commanded to repeat twice daily – morning and evening, whether in a (physical as well as psychological) state of light or in a state of darkness. 1118 is the lowest common multiple of 26, Havayah, and 86,Elokim, the two Names of God (the first corresponding to His transcendence and the second to His immanence) that we unite in the Shema. The remaining letters of the verse (ת בתתי שמרו מקדשי יראו ני הוה) equals 2505 = 15 (God's Name Kahי-ה) times 167, the value of "Havayah is our God Havayah is one" (הוי' אלהינו הוי' אחד).

In Chassidut we are taught to contemplate that the first word of the Shema, "Hear [O Israel…]" ([שמע [ישראל…) stands for the phrase in Isaiah, "Lift up your eyes [and see who has created these]" ([שאו מרום עיניכם [וראו מי ברא אלה). By so doing we bring the sense of sight into our sense of hearing (understanding).

We explained previously the relation of Shabbat to sight. On each of the three annual festivals we are commanded to come to the Holy Temple in order to be seen by God and to see Him, as it were. This is one of the 613 commandments of the Torah, the commandment of "seeing" (מצות ראיה). The awe of the Temple is the awe of the experience of witnessing Godliness directly and feeling ourselves being seen by His very essence.

Let us now take every third letter in the above verse:

את שבתתי תשמרו ומקדשי תיראו אני י-ה-ו-ה

The last four of the ten emphasized letters spell the word "sight" (ראיה), beginning with the reish of "[stand in] awe" (note that "awe" and "sight" derive from the same two-letter sub-root, reish alefרא) and concluding with the first and last letter of the final word of the verse, God's essential Name, Havayah. The gematria of all ten emphasized letters, 1332, is that of the verse that precedes the Ten Commandments, when we experienced the union of the two senses of seeing and hearing ("And all the people saw the voices", וכל העם ראים את הקולת): "And God spoke all of these things saying" (וידבר א-להים את כל הדברים האלה לאמר).

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