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Levels of Holiness
In the Laws of the Holy Temple by Maimonides (chapter 6) he writes, “The entire Temple was not on a plane but uphill.” Maimonides then lists how each part of the Temple was higher than the one before it, in keeping with rising levels of holiness.

Building the Holy Temple is a mitzvah in the Torah, which began with the construction of the Tabernacle in the desert. Many of the key elements of the Tabernacle in the desert were found in the Temple as well. However, the Tabernacle was built on a plane, with no stipulation that it be built at various elevations.

Why was the Temple built at various levels?

The Tabernacle in the desert was a temporary structure. The earth it stood on was not sanctified, and thus it could be moved from place to place. The Holy Temple was built in a place chosen by G-d and sanctified by Him. Even after the destruction of the Temple, the holiness of the ground remains. The holiness was tied to the soil itself, and thus the Temple was built at an incline, with various grades of holiness at each level.

Not all the levels of holiness within the Temple was distinguished by height. The interior of the Temple was divided into the “Holy” and the “Holy of Holies,” which were both on the same level. The Holy of Holies was the most sanctified place in the Temple yet it was not the highest spot.

The reason for this is that the Holy of Holies held in infinite level of holiness, one that could not be expressed in mere differences of elevation. Therefore it was built on the same level as the adjacent Temple.

(Likutei Sichot vol. 29, p. 71)


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