In trying to become a holier person, one can go astray despite donning the garments, behaviors, and thoughts of holiness. 

In fact, one may stray into self-righteousness precisely because he is adding those extra layers and expecting holiness to follow.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe had a beautiful teaching based on a line from this week's Torah portion, Terumah:

"And they shall make for me a Sanctuary that I may dwell in their midst." (Ex 25:8)

The Rebbe noted that the Torah does not say that God will dwell in the midst of the Sanctuary, but rather in the midst of the people.

He explains that this commandment includes three types of Sanctuary:

1. The physical Tabernacle the Jews built in the desert
2. The personal, inner sanctuary we construct out of our lives, and our sphere of influence among others
3. The world at large, which we must transform into God's home

In all these cases, said the Rebbe, our task is possible only because we are revealing the hidden, true nature of reality. 

Each of us is a holy soul, pulsating with Divine energy. We build a Sanctuary of Holiness by stripping away the excess material baggage we've accumulated during our journey through life.

Stripping away those layers is not easy. It takes work to pierce through the stories we've told ourselves over and over again - the stories we usually star in as both hero and victim, where others appear as unfair judges, obstacles or even enemies. 

Revealing the hidden holiness in ourselves requires that we first perceive the hidden holiness in others.

Image by Map Cycle via Flickr

With thanks to "Daily Wisdom by the Lubavitcher Rebbe - Asher David Milstein Edition" (

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