The Talmud (Yoma 9b) brings the statement of Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Elazar, where they note that unlike the First Temple, where the three cardinal sins of idolatry, adultery and murder were done in the open without any attempt to conceal them, thus earning them an open prophecy proclaiming that the Second Temple would be rebuilt in seventy years, the Second Temple came to an end based on the hiddenness of sinat chinam, hatred of one another, that was hidden in the heart, causing the final ketz, the final time of the geulah, to be hidden. This element of subterfuge personifies our current galut, called galut Edom, which is likened to a pig. The pig claims to be pure, based on its external cloven hooves, but is of course disqualified because internally it does not chew its cud.
To see the Third Temple, we must build ourselves from inside out and breed sincerity in our hearts. Rabbi Yaakov Harari paints a picture to illustrate how to build from within. The Messilat Yesharim, in the chapter of Zrizut, highlights the fact that external action assists in strengthening inner practice, as he writes, “For the external movement rouses the inner ones and certainly the external movement is more in his power than the inner ones.” However, the true work is working from within, as he says, “You already know that what is most desired in the service of G-d, may His Name be blessed, is desire of the heart and longing of the soul.”
Rabbi Harari explains our mission. First, we must realize that our true purpose it to be megaleh kavod Shamayim (see Avot 2:2 – “And let all your actions be for [the sake of] the name of heaven”), publicize the glory of G-d. G-d put us in this world to spread his glory. Therefore, we are working for G-d in this essential mission. When one works for someone, they are by definition unselfish. Adopting the mission to spread G-d’s presence affirms that one is a servant to G-d.
Once one is able to internalize this idea, our mission to spread G-d’s glory, and that this world is not for us to engage in superficial pleasures, we can start looking towards our fellow man with more of an open heart and true desire to assist him in all his needs. Breaking our innards for G-d, and abandoning our selfishness, leads to a natural equation of us being more able to look beyond ourselves and love others.
With this in mind, we can better understand the argument between Moshe and Betzalel (Berakhot 55a) whether the keilim of the Mishkan should take precedence or the structure of the Mishkan must come first. Their argument focused on whether the vessels, which symbolize the avodah to G-d are greater or the structure that physically houses G-d. It’s true that G-d sided with Betzalel, in that the structure had to be created first, but that may have been from an architect’s point of view. Moshe’s argument wasn’t necessarily disproven as the vessels are the lynchpin for avodah.
A support to Moshe’s intent comes from the verse (Leviticus 25:8), “Ve’asu li mikdash veshachanti betocham – And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” The famous question asked is that it should say G-d will dwell in it, in the structure, not in them. The answer is that G-d dwells in the heart of each person. This means that our insides must become a holy house for the Shechinah to dwell. Of course, Betzalel’s argument holds true as well – we need a body to house our spirit.
To initiate immediate action, certain concrete steps can be taken during this time to accentuate our sincere hopes for the geulah. Rabbi Dovid Hirsch shlita, mara d’atra of Kehillas Beis Yosef, gives three recommendations.
First, to feel the loss and contemplate what we are missing with no Beit HaMikdash. This idea can be connected with another idea of the Rav that my uncle, Rabbi Menachem Genack shlita, brings down in one of his sefarim. The Rav holds that nechama is part and parcel of availut, meaning any time there’s availut, there must be nechama. Therefore, showing true feelings of loss can bring a great consolation, which we hope will materialize immediately in the binyan HaMikdash.
Second, he said that it’s important during this time period to have extra kavana in certain berachot of Shemoneh Esrei such as L’yerushalayim Ircha B’rachamim Tashuv and VeTechezena Eineinu Beshuvcha LeTzion BeRachamim.
Lastly, he said to increase our focus on chesed. Considering the Mikdash was destroyed based on sinat chinam, performing chesed to others during this time shows our desire to help our brethren. Michael Dube, a New Jersey resident who is well-known for living a life of chesed, recently said a powerful line on a podcast. He said, “no one should ever think they are better than anyone else.” This line encompasses such deep intonations and serves as a motto to inculcate into our consciences. It heightens the idea that every person needs to be greatly respected. This is framed in another way in the Iggeret HaRamban where he says that one must view every person as their superior, since there must be at least one area in life where they have something you don’t.
There’s a famous line, that if you don’t deal with the root cause of the problem, but only the symptoms, then the disease won’t go away. We have one last frontier to master in order to bring the Third Temple: sincerity from the inside. Certainly, external actions will influence our inner practices, but the depth of being a Jew lies in our inner connectedness to G-d. We are children of the king with a mission to spread his glory. Anyone who is so inebriated with the spirit of the king carves out holy innards for where He can reside. These holy innards must also feel respect and admiration for others, with the refusal to harbor something in the heart against anyone. If we’re open in our feelings with others in a non-duplicitous fashion, then G-d can open the gates to the redemption.