“Where is G-d?”

Friday, 16 February, 2018 - 5:21 am

Elliot Lasky was just another one of those young people who were searching for themselves at the beginning of the 1970’s in the United States – in a variety of places. He thought he would find answers in music, but even after he had spent the summer of 1972 on a two-month, cross-country tour of the Rolling Stones, he was still searching.

And so, he found himself on one freezing day in the middle of the winter of 1973, standing on the steps of the famous red-brick 770 building in Brooklyn, the world center of Chabad, waiting for the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

At the time he was sporting a beard and shoulder-length hair, and was wearing snakeskin boots, jeans and a leather jacket. He approached the Rebbe, who had just gotten out of his car. Using the Yiddish that he knew from home, he asked the Rebbe: “Excuse me, are you the Lubavitcher Rebbe?” And thus started a fifteen-minute conversation, which he describes as being life-changing.

Elliot cries when he remembers the Rebbe’s eyes. “Our eyes were locked. I have never seen eyes like that.”

“I have a question,” he said to the Rebbe. “Where is G-d?” “Everywhere,” replied the Rebbe. “I know,” said Elliot, “but where?” Again, the Rebbe answered, “Everywhere. In the tree, in a stone, everywhere.” “I know,” repeated Elliot, their eyes still locked, feeling that the physical world around them had ceased to exist. “I know, but where is he?” “In your heart,” answered the Rebbe. “G-d is in your heart.”

“And they will make me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in them,” said Hashem to Bnei Yisrael in this week’s parasha. “In them” – Hashem wishes to dwell inside Bnei Yisrael, in the heart of each and every one of us. How does one do this? How does one build a personal, private Beit Mikdash inside ourselves, in our hearts?

This is what the Rebbe writes in a talk for parashat Terumah: “When a person makes a sanctuary  from his material possessions for Hashem – learns Torah and observes the mitzvot and brings holiness into mundane matters and non-obligatory things – Hashem dwells within him.”

Elliot Lasky stood with the Rebbe in front of a shul and a beit midrash, but when he asked where G-d is, the answer was not “Here, behind you, in the shul.” The answer was: “Everywhere. In the tree and the stone. In everything, and yes, of course, in your heart as well.”

Hashem and the Torah don’t belong only in the beit knesset and the beit midrash. We must find the way to sanctify our daily life – including work and travel, meals and business discussions. It might seem difficult at first, but it is really very simple. When a person believes and knows that G-d is really everywhere, he will know how to sanctify the time and place in which he is operating.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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