The three-week long mourning period from the 17th of the month of Tammuz through the 9th of Av is primarily to commemorate the events surrounding the destruction of both the First and Second Temples. While it is difficult for many in this modern age to relate, the Alshich helps us understand our great loss.

"They will make a sanctuary for me." (Ex. 25:8)

The message is mind boggling! Who can imagine that G‑d's Presence can be contained on earth, much less in a man-made structure! When Solomon beheld that the presence of G‑d filled the Temple he had built, he was awed. He realized that this was only possible because the site of Mount Moriah had been the gateway to Heaven since Creation. Our sages express this by stating that the sanctuary on earth is opposite G‑d's sanctuary in Heaven. For that reason Adam and Noah offered their sacrifices at that site, and so did Abraham and Jacob. When Israel erected the Tabernacle, G‑d told the angels to erect a celestial counterpart…

When Solomon, at the dedication (Kings I:8) said, "I have built a residence", repeating the word "I have built" ("bana baniti"), he indicated that what he had accomplished here on earth, had had its effects in Heaven - that he had in effect built two temples. The celestial temple is situated in a region called "Zevul". This is what is known as "the place of Your eternal residence".

All of David's efforts to locate the exact site for the Temple had had this as their objective. In his days, nobody had known where the exact location was until the prophet Gad told David that it was on the threshing ground of Arnon the Jebusite. (Samuel II 24:18)

A similar concept, of man's actions being matched in celestial spheres, is expressed in the Midrash. (Bamidbar Rabba 12:12) We are told there that when Israel erected the Tabernacle, G‑d told the angels to erect a celestial counterpart. That sanctuary is called the "Tabernacle of the youth Meta‑tron"; there the souls of the righteous would be offered during the period Israel is in exile, as atonement for the Jewish nation.

This is why the Torah describes the erection of the tabernacle as "et hamishkan", the word "et" signifying something additional, i.e. the celestial counterpart. Just as there is a senior temple in the celestial spheres as described in the Song of the Sea, i.e. "…the Sanctuary, my G‑d, that Your hands established" (Ex. 15:17) so there is also a junior such residence in the celestial spheres, albeit in a lower layer of heaven, called the "Rakiya".

This junior temple functions when there is no temple down here due to our sins. This is why the Midrash calls it the "Tabernacle of the Youth", i.e. the junior temple.

The author quotes many proofs from Scripture supporting the idea that when man does things for the glory of G‑d (provided he is in a state of grace) man's actions have their counterpart in celestial regions. What G‑d told Israel in this portion is that even after the grave sin of the Golden Calf, once rehabilitated by penitence, the freedom which man has been equipped with enables him to draw the holiness of G‑d down to earth.

[Translated and adapted by Eliyahu Munk.]