Shavuot: Tanya: Torah Study as a Mishkan
It is well known that the Patriarchs themselves constituted the Chariot, or Merkavah, for throughout their lives they never, not even for a moment abstained from finding their mind and soul to the Lord of the universe, with total self surrender to His blessed unity. So for all the prophets after them, each according to the level of his soul and his perception. However, the rank of Moshe our teacher surpassed them all, for concerning in it was said, “The Shechinah speaks out of Moshe’s throat (Zohar III 232a).
At Mount Sinai the Children of Israel experienced something similar to this union, but they could not endure it, as the Rabbis said: “At each Divine Utterance their souls took flight (Shabbat 88b),” which is an indication of the annihilation of their existence, as mentioned. Therefore God commanded at once that there be made for Him a Sanctuary, containing the Holy of Holies, so that there might dwell there in His Shechinah, which is the revelation of His blessed unity.
However, since the Temple was destroyed, God has no other sanctuary or habitation for His blessed unity save the “four cubits of the halachah (Berachot 8a),” which is His will and wisdom as embodied in the laws which have been set out for us. Therefore, after reflecting deeply on the subject of this self nullification, according to his capacity, one should reflect deeply as follows:
My mind and the root of my soul are too limited to constitute a Chariot and an abode for His blessed unity in perfect truth, since my mind cannot at all conceived and apprehend Him in any manner or degree of perception in the world, not even an iota of the perception of the patriarchs and prophets. This being the case, I shall make for In a Mishkan and habitation by engaging in this study of Torah, as my time permits, at appointed times by day and night in accordance with the law which was given to each individual as specified in the laws of the study of Torah. (Tanya, Likkutei Amarim, Chapter 34)