I attended a wedding this weekend and heard a great rabbinic parable that described how God chose the location for his temple in Jerusalem. The parable is located in the Talmud, and there are a couple of versions of the story that are told today.
How God Chose the Location of The Temple
Four thousand years ago, two brothers lived near each other on a hill by Jerusalem. They each had their own farm, but they shared a threshing floor. Every year they would bring in the harvest and divide it equally between them. Then they would take the grain to their farms and sell it in the market place.
One day the single brother said to himself, “You know, it’s not right that we should share the produce equally, and the profit too. After all, I’m all alone, just by myself and my needs are simple. But there is my poor brother with a wife and all those children.”
So in the middle of the night he took a sack of grain from his bin, crept over the field between their houses and dumped the sack of grain into his brother’s bin.
Meanwhile, unknown to him, his brother had the same thought. He said to himself, “It is not right that we should share produce and profit equally. After all, I am married and I have my wife and my children to help me bring in the harvest for years to come. But my brother has no one, and no one to help me and he is doing all of the work himself.”
So he too, in the middle of the night, began taking a sack of grain from his bin and sneaking across the field to deposit it in his brother’s bin. And both were puzzled for years as to why their supply did not dwindle.
One night it just so happened that they both set out for each others house at the same time. In the dark they bumped into each other carrying their sacks. Each was startled, but then it slowly dawned on them what was happening. They dropped their sacks and embraced one another.
Suddenly the dark sky lit up and a voice from heaven spoke, “Here at last is the place where I will build my Temple. For where brothers meet in love, there my Presence shall dwell.”