Essay on Parshat Pikuday 2016
This week’s portion opens up with the verse “These are the accounts of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were rendered according to the commandment of Moses, through the service of the Levites, by the hand of Itamar, the son of Aaron the priest.” the Midrash brings down some interesting insights regarding the verse. It first opens up with a question that is quite apparent when reading the opening stanza: Why is the word Mishkan (tabernacle) mentioned twice? The Midrash explains that Moses prophesized here about the the first two temples that will be destroyed. The following word, Testimony, is hinting to the third temple that will be built personally by G-D and, therefore, will never be destroyed again.
It is known, that the Rambam wrote his Halachic work, the Mishnah Torah, with the intention of encompassing all the laws of the Torah even those that will apply to the nation of Israel after the building of the third temple. This is unusual since most of the other Rishonim and Achronim have written mainly about laws that are relevant during exile.
The Rambam brings down in the laws of the Temple chapter 1:1 “It is a positive commandment to construct a house to Hashem that will have the proper preparations of being able to bring offerings. There we must celebrate three times a year as it says in the Torah “you shall make me a Temple…” The sanctuary built my Moses that is mentioned in the Torah was only temporary as it is stated in Deuteronomy 12:9 “you have not yet come unto the resting place and inheritance”
The Rambam’s words clearly contradict the Midrash that claims that the third temple is called “Eydut“- testimony since it will be built by Hashem Himself. According to the Rambam, building the temple is a commandment like the other 612 commandments that is incumbent upon man to fulfill!
How can we understand the Midrash in light of the words of the Rambam?
First of all, as we mentioned already in other essays, the Midrash is not meant to be taken literally. The Midrashic system works by presenting deep messages which reveal hidden worlds regarding the Torah. It is our job, when studying Midrash, to try and decipher the hidden message that is being presented to us. In many instances there are a variety of messages and the floor is open for us to use our insight to figure out a possible message the Midrash is trying to relate to us.
I think that today’s reality has opened the door for our understanding the idea behind the Midrash. When a Jew visiting the Temple Mount has to pretend like he is talking to someone or has to come up with other tricks while trying to squeeze a few words of prayer in, you know that something is not right.
The holiest place on earth purchased by King David himself for the nation of Israel as the site of our everlasting temple today is off limits for Jewish prayers. Although this reality is totally absurd, there is a reason behind this craziness. It stems from the fact that many fear that World War Three will break out if Jews are allowed the right to pray on G-D’s Mountain. The present situation of terrorism that is sweeping the country is a small sample of what can happen if the Jews are given permission to worship Hashem. Thinking about this, this is absurdity in its essence. The fact that there are evil people out there that will not tolerate Israel’s return to her holiest site and are willing to create havoc over it does not justify the maintenance of the status quo. This is a terrible lesson in justice and ethics. We cannot let the bad guys win. Israel has to shape up and fight against the persecution of her people in here own homeland. Whatever the price may be evil cannot be let to win.
With this in mind we can now understand what the Midrash is trying to say by saying that Hashem will build the temple.
In the end, it will obviously be man that will build the temple the same way we the previous two were built. The Midrash is hinting to the great difficulty that we will have in being able to overcome the great difficulties caused by political circumstances and international pressure. This is exactly what is going on today. Nevertheless, eventually Israel’s Divine bestowed sovereignty over the Temple Mount will no doubt be accepted by the entire world. How exactly we will overcome the obstacles and be able to build it we don’t yet know how this will happen. What we do know is that Hashem who is behind the scenes setting the stage for the everlasting building of the third temple. It is our job to do as much as we can to further this goal. In the end we know what will take place as clearly stated by the prophet Isaiah says: 2:2,3, And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. “