Parshat Terumah – 2011
Our home – our Temple
Our holy Rabbis bring down an enlightenment pertaining to our founding fathers and the Holy Temple. Abraham is called “The Mountain” (hahar), ascending above all who lived in his generation, climbing above much discomfort and many difficulties, rising above all that transpired as he was greatly tested in faith. It was to the mountain of Moriah that he brought his son- (Genesis:22:2)- “Take thy son, thy only son Yitzchak whom thou lovest, and get thee to the land of Moriah….” Yitzchak is called “The Field” (hasadeh) (Genisis 24:63)- “And Yitzchak went out to meditate in the field…” The Temple Mount is also known as the field purchased by King David from the Jebusites. The field is a place that is closer to the environs of town. Yaakov is known as “The House” (habayit) or Beit Yaakov, Beit Yisrael. He identified the Temple Mount as HaBayit, the home. It was Yaakov who raised the level of obedience in actualizing fear of heaven and love of heaven into pragmatics in his home where the entire house of Israel sprouted from.
The mountain, field and home are three icons for worship. The mountain is a place our ancient fathers retreated to, away from civilization to the far away cloisters as illustrated in our early prophets such as Jeremiah. The Tanaim and Amoraim who lived in the era shortly after our second Temple was destroyed were known to serve Hashem and roam the fields and forests as personified in the writer of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who lived alone with his son for years and years in a cave in a field. In this setting it was very difficult to be a connecting link to the community. In certain instances these settings were described as “wandering through the desert”. The desert, or midbar comes from the root word davar, meaning to speak. This alludes to words of prayer. The desert too is a place of isolation, where one is alone. It is a place of individual prayer and meditation.
What about the commandment to take a wife and have a family? How can one sit in the field all day? Therefore, our Rabbis bring down that the highest level of devotion is actually on the hearthstone of home in the domestic management of family dynamics where the people most attached to you emotionally are closest at hand, within earshot, under your nose. There is a term, ba’al habayit which means someone who is a substantial citizen, or better yet , “a homeowner”. This is the place where Hashem’s greatness can be most revealed as he helps to cope with the challenges of being a father, mother, husband, wife, sister, brother, grandfather, grandson, etc… where the material is transformed into spiritual work – turning the home into the Temple.
All things considered, our first two holy Temples were destroyed due to our sins and were considered like “The Mountain” and “The Field” being that our existence relies solely on “The House”, like Yaakov called the site of the holy Temple “HaBayit’. When a person is able to channel his worship of G-d into making his/her home a Temple and making it work- salvation will surely come! When this spark enters the psyche of how precious the home is to Hashem, one can surely overcome most of the tests and feel as if this life is the world to come in this world. Shir Hashirim (5) – ” I sleep but my heart is awake… Open up the door my beloved- how long can I stand outside our home!” Hashem asks. This indeed describes our situation today as Hashem is ready for us to build a home for Him.
The sitra Achra(the other side) has certainly grasped the significance of the Jewish home. They understand the power of the home, the Tabernacle of worship, the Temple as a place the Shechina resides. In the words of Mike Huckabee who spoke this week in Israel- “How can it be that the world is so concerned about a Jewish family adding on another room to their home in their historical Land- as if it will shake the world peace while they turn a blind eye as Iran builds bombs?!”
Shabbat Shalom Leah Goldsmith