Return to main index

H1. Having Reverence for God's Sanctuary.    [Make a Comment]

We are to have reverence for God's sanctuary.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Leviticus 19:30 (Maimonides RP21; Meir MP18; Chinuch C254)
Keep my Shabbats, and revere my sanctuary; I am ADONAI.

Leviticus 26:2 (Maimonides RP21; Meir MP18)
Keep my Shabbats, and revere my sanctuary; I am ADONAI.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Don't you know that you people are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? So if anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you yourselves are that temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or don't you know that your body is a temple for the Ruach HaKodesh who lives inside you, whom you received from God? The fact is, you don't belong to yourselves; for you were bought with a price. So use your bodies to glorify God.

Supportive Scripture

2 Corinthians 6:16-17
What agreement can there be between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God - as God said, "I will house myself in them ... and I will walk among you. I will be their God, and they will be my people." Therefore ADONAI says, "Go out from their midst; seperate yourselves; don't even touch what is unclean. Then I myself will receive you".


This Mitzvah historically applies to having reverence for the Tabernacle of God and later for the Temple, for these were, according to Scripture, most holy. Today, we may apply this Mitzvah to any biblically authorized sanctuary in which God dwells or in which we worship Him. This includes edifices such as synagogues, churches and chapels, and may be extended to their furnishings and accoutrements that are set aside as holy objects used in worship. We must treat even the space of these sanctuaries with respect and not conduct ourselves in ways that demean their purpose.

Some synagogue and church sanctuaries are temporary or convertible spaces that are used for other things besides worship. In such cases, the space ought to be ceremonially commissioned when it is about to be used as a sanctuary, and decommissioned, and its holy objects put away, when its use as a sanctuary is concluded.

The 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Scripture is interesting in that it applies to our personal bodies and also to our corporate body, the body of believers. Having reverence for these bodies is not very different from how we are to treat sanctuaries of brick and mortar, in that we are to care for them and not subject them to, or use them for, unholy purposes.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides and HaChinuch treat their respective mitzvot as only applying to the historical sanctuary of the Temple, whereas Meir applies it in a more contemporary way. He refers to synagogues and places where Torah is studied as "little sanctuaries" and states that we must not do ordinary and frivolous things in them like sleep, and engage in laughter and idle conversation.


Return to main index