"Binyan Beit HaBechirah"
The RAMBAM, the great twelfth century Torah scholar of the Jewish People, wrote in the "Mishneh Torah," his magnum opus or greatest work, in "Hilchot Melachim," "Laws of Kings" Chapter 1, Halachah 1, "The People of Israel were commanded to do three things upon their entry into the Land: to appoint a King, as it says 'Place upon yourselves a King ' (Devarim 17:15), and to destroy the seed of Amalek, as it says " Erase the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens " (Devarim 25:19), and to build the House Chosen by G-d, as it says in connection with abandoning the idolatrous places of worship and turning instead to the worship of Hashem at the Temple, in Jerusalem, 'Seek the Place that (He has chosen as) His "Home," and go there.' (Devarim 12:5)"
Theme of the Haftarah
The Haftarah for Parshat Terumah has a double theme:
Summary of the Haftarah ("Melachim"/Kings 1, 5:26 - 6:13)
In accord with Shlomo's response to Hashem's offer to give him whatever he wants (Melachim 1, 3:5), where Shlomo had requested wisdom (Melachim 1, 3:9), our Haftarah begins, "And Hashem gave Shlomo wisdom, as he promised him; and there was peace between Chiram and Shlomo; and they made a covenant with each other."
Chiram would provide the magnificent cypress and cedars of the Lebanon for the Temple, and Shlomo would provide Chiram, King of Tzor, with tremendous quantities of wheat and oil.
Shlomo would levy a tax upon his People, requiring a 30,000-man rotating workforce, consisting of three groups of 10,000 workers (1,000 from each of ten tribes), working alternate shifts of one month, then "leave" of two months, in the forests of the Lebanon cutting trees under the guidance of the forestry experts of Tzor.
There would be an additional 150,000 workers doing more laborious tasks: 70,000 moving the heavy bricks, and 80,000 working in the quarries, under the skilled direction of 3,300 "managers" whose job it was to make sure that Shlomo's project deadlines, no doubt fair and reasonable, were met.
Four hundred eighty years after the Jewish People left Egypt, in the fourth year of Shlomo's reign, in the Hebrew Month of Iyar (called the "Month of Splendor" because of the beautiful flowers and blossoms which appeared everywhere in the Land in that springtime month (RADAK's explanation)), the building was complete.
The dimensions of the Temple are given: Length of 60 "amot" (where an "amah" is in the range of one-and-a-half to two feet), Width of 20 "amot;" and Height of 30 "amot."
A smaller porch-like feature is defined, and a three-story extension extending all around the building, with spiral stair-cases is described.
An unusual design feature required in Shlomo's Plan, which had Divine approval, was inverted windows, where the wide openings pointed inwards, as if collecting light from the interior, to show that the Temple had no need of external light, but rather that the external world had a great need for the spiritual light found in the Temple. (Yalkut Shimoni, Melachim 1, 6:4)
The entire structure was constructed without the aid of iron tools - and where iron would seem to have been needed, the "cutting force" was supplied, according to Jewish Tradition, by the tiny, miraculous creature called the "shamir."
The reason for the rejection of iron for use in the construction of the Temple was that even though it is part of many peaceful tools and instruments, such as a plow, iron is also the main ingredient of weapons. The purpose of weapons is to shorten human life, while the purpose of the Temple is to establish "Shalom," peace, in the relationship between the human being and his Creator, thus lengthening human life. That contradiction in purpose makes iron totally inappropriate and unacceptable for use as a tool in G-d's Temple.
And Hashem said to Shlomo, "This magnificent structure that you have completed will be allowed by Me to stand if and only if you follow my statutes, and do my laws, and you observe all my Commandments, to follow them; then I will fulfill my agreement with you that I established with David, your father. And I will dwell among the People of Israel, and I will not abandon My People, Israel."
Connections to the Parshah - Comparisons and Contrasts
What was built?
In the Parshah, the Jewish People construct the "Mishkan," the portable Temple, that moved from place to place with the People in the Desert, and after their initial entry into the Land of Israel, as a "place" for the Divine Presence to reside. In the Haftarah, Shlomo HaMelech, King Solomon, directs the Jewish People in the construction of the First Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple designed to be a "permanent resting place" for the Divine Presence, in Yerushalayim.
Why was it Built?
The Construction of the Mishkan, in addition to being the fulfillment of a Divine Command, as it says "And let them make for Me a Temple, that I may reside among them," (Shemot 25:8) was also a tremendous act of "Teshuvah," Repentance, for the Sin of Worshipping the Golden Calf. That act helped restore the Jewish People, according to the RAMBAN of the thirteenth century, to the level of the "Avot," the forefathers of the Jewish people, with whom the Divine Presence was never a stranger. Thus the main actors on the stage in the Book of Shemot, the Jewish People, rise again, with the Construction of the Mishkan, to the level of the Avot, who were the main actors in the Book of Bereshit. Whereas, in the Haftarah, the Construction of the Temple was only the fulfillment of the Divine Command mentioned in the Introduction. Hence, the generous spirit associated with its construction, as discussed below, is unfortunately lacking.
With what Spirit was it Built?
Because of the above, in the Parshah, all the materials and all the labor required for the Construction was donated by the People of Israel; in the Haftarah, almost all of the structural material, in terms of timber, required was obtained from Chiram (this point is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the timber was located, after all, in the forests of the Lebanon); however, the labor had to be taxed from the Jewish People! Also, some of the major skills required for the Temple were learned from outside consultants, whereas, in the case of the Mishkan, all the skills were obtained and provided internally.
Which was holier?
Both the Mishkan and the Temple were extremely holy (to the extent that only the "Kohen Gadol," the High Priest, could enter the Holy of Holies, in the case of the Mishkan, or the corresponding (see below) "Dvir," in the case of the Temple, on Yom Kippur); however, the level of holiness was greater in the case of the Mishkan than in the case of the Temple of Solomon, (as was the level of holiness of the First Temple superior to the level of holiness of the Second Temple). On the other hand, the level of holiness of the Third Temple, to be built in the Time of the Mashiach, will exceed that of all three spiritual centers that will have gone before it.
Which was bigger?
Dimensionally, the proportions of the First temple far exceeded the corresponding proportions of the Mishkan:
The length of the Mishkan was 30 "amot," while the length of the Temple was 60 "amot." The width of the Mishkan was 10 "amot," while the width of the Temple was 20 "amot." The height of the Mishkan was 10 "amot," while the height of the Temple was 30 "amot."
Corresponding Parts of the Temple and the Mishkan
Each had three basic parts, serving equivalent functions:
The "Kodesh HaKodoshim," or Holy of Holies in the Mishkan, corresponded to the "Dvir," or Innermost Chamber, in the Temple.
The "Kodesh," or the Holy Section, in the Mishkan, that contained the "Shulchan," the Table, the "Menorah," the Candelabrum, and the "Mizbach HaZahav," the Golden Altar for Incense, corresponded to the "Heichal," or Palace in the Temple, in which Shlomo had ten "Shulchanot" and ten "Menorot" in addition to the single "Shulchan" and single "Menorah" of the Mishkan.
The "Chatzer," or Yard, in the Mishkan, that contained the "Mizbach HaNechoshet," Copper Altar, for animal and grain sacrifices, and the "Kiyor," the basin, corresponded to the "Ulam," the Hall, in the Temple.
The First Temple and (a Selection from) the Kings of Israel
"David HaMelech," King David
David greatly desired to build a Temple for the glory of Hashem, and to spend all his days in close association with it. "One thing I ask of Hashem, that shall I seek: That I might dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life; to behold the sweetness of Hashem and to contemplate in His Sanctuary." ("Tehilim," Psalms 27:4)
But this privilege was withheld from David because of his involvement in war, even though his involvement was for the sake of Hashem. But the privilege was granted to his son, Shlomo.
"Shlomo HaMelech," King Solomon
Shlomo was the central actor in the Construction of the First Temple. He built a magnificent structure with the assistance of Chiram, King of Tzor, who provided vast amounts of lumber and much expertise.
His method of construction was fully in keeping with the attitude of the Torah, that iron not be used as an instrument in any aspect of the Construction.
He also consulted first and foremost with the Jewish Court to guarantee that he was acting in the spirit of the Torah. As it says in Melachim 1, 8:1 "And King Solomon gathered the 'elders of Israel;' " these "elders" were none other than the members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court.
"Yeravam HaMelech HaRasha," Wicked King Yeravam
Yeravam ben Nevat, probably the most wicked of all the Kings that have ruled the Jewish People, had great potential for good. But his arrogance didn't allow him to act properly. He caused the split in the People of Israel into two Kingdoms, the "Kingdom of Yehudah" and the "Kingdom of Israel,"or "Ephrayim." He ruled over the separated "Kingdom of Ephrayim" and would not allow his subjects, Ten of the Tribes, to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. He is probably most responsible for the loss, whether permanent or not is debated in the Talmud but in any case for thousands of years, of the Ten Lost Tribes.
According to a Midrash, Hashem came Himself to Yeravam and said, "Yeravam, repent! And you, ben Yishai, and I will stroll together in "Gan Eden," Paradise." Yeravam's response was, "Who will go first?" When Hashem answered "(David) ben Yishai will go first," Yeravam declined the offer.
"Yoash HaMelech," King Yoash
One hundred fifty years after the Construction of the Temple, we find that Yoash was concerned with the repair of damage to the Temple and to the proper arrangements for the taxation of the People to help with the repair.
"Chizkiyahu Hamelech," King Chizkiyahu
Chizkiyahu acted in many ways to strengthen and maintain the Temple. His father, Achaz, had done much damage to the Temple in closing its gates, suspending its sacrifices, and destroying its vessels. Chizkiyahu reversed all the damage his father had done.
He also renewed the Songs of the Leviim, as it says "He established the Leviim in the House of Hashem with cymbals, with psalteries and with harps, according to the command of David." (Chronicles 2, 29:25)
"Menashe HaMelech HaRasha," Wicked King Menashe
Menashe, his son, was one of the most wicked Kings of Israel; he defiled the holiness of the Temple, installing idolatrous practices and images in its holy precincts.
"Yoshiyahu HaMelech," King Yoshiyahu
Yoshiyahu attempted to reverse the damage caused by his wicked father, Menashe. In Melachim 2, 23:25, the text reads, "And there was none like him, who returned to G-d with all his heart and all his soul and after him, none arose."
Nevertheless, the sum total of good and evil was weighed by G-d and, in 586 BCE, the Temple of Solomon was destroyed by Nevuchadnetzar, and the Babylonians, along with the holy city of Jerusalem.
It will have stood for about 410 years.
After a relatively short Exile of 70 years, as prophesied by Yirmiyahu, the Temple is rebuilt by Ezra and Nechemiah in 516 B.C.E. The Second Temple stands till about 70 C.E., when it is destroyed by the Romans, having stood in Yerushalayim for about 586 years.
Thus, a Temple will have stood in the Holy City of Yerushalayim for approximately one thousand years.
If we add to that the 480 years that the Mishkan traveled with the Jewish People, we see that the Jewish People had a physical spiritual center for some 1500 years.
For the last nearly 2,000 years, we have relied on our shuls, our "Batei Mikdash Meat," our Holy Temples in Miniature, and on our prayers in place of sacrifices. We have prayed all that time "May our eyes behold Your return to Zion (Yerushalayim) with mercy." We now pray to G-d that He hasten the arrival of the Mashiach, who will build the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem, "soon and in our days."
We conclude with the "Tefilah," the Prayer, offered by Shlomo at the conclusion of the dedication of his Temple,
"But will G-d in truth dwell on the earth? Behold, the entire universe cannot contain You, certainly not this house that I have built." Nevertheless, "May Your eyes be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place about which You said, 'My Name shall be there' " "And be mindful of the pleas of Your servant, and Your People, Israel, when they shall pray towards this place; May You hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive." (Kings I 8:27,29-30)
"And concerning the stranger, who is not of Your People, Israel, when he shall come from a far country for Your Name's sake; For they shall hear of Your great Name, and of Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm - when he shall come and pray towards this house; May You listen in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger asks of You; so that all the people of the earth may know Your Name, to fear You, as does Your People, Israel, and so they may know that Your Name is called upon this house that I have built." (Kings I, 8:41-43)
Some of the discussion above was based on that in "Chazon HaMikra," ("Prophetic Vision in the Bible"), by Rav Yissachar Yaakovson, published by Sinai, Tel-Aviv; some source material was also found in "The Midrash Says - On the Weekly Haftaros," by Rabbi Moshe Weissman, published by Benei Yaakov Publications, Brooklyn, N.Y. - both excellent sources for study of the Tanach!
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU