Parshat Teruma: If You Build It, God Will Come

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Hammer and Nail
07 Feb 2008

BS”D Parshat Terumah 5768

We know that Moshe built the Mishkan, and that Shlomo HaMelech built the first Bet HaMikdash, and Ezra the Scribe built the second Bet HaMikdash, but who will build the future Bet HaMikdash?

In answer to this question many quote Rashi’s commentary to Sukkah 41a that the future Bet HaMikdash will descend from the heavens.

This Rashi commentary has become a major plank in certain Charedi circles non-ideology of do nothing. Why perspire for no reason when it will all come down from the shamayim anyway? Why break your back in removing stones in preparation for plowing the holy earth of Eretz Yisrael? Why pave roads or till the soil when our Father in heaven will supply us with all, just as our earthy fathers-in-law support us?

Why pick up arms to defend our families when HaShem has already sent the non-religious to do it for us?

Many major Charedi leaders of the last century taught that it is far far better to continue our lives in Berlin, Warsaw and Budapest where we will wait for the red magic carpet to descend from the shamayim to transport us to Yerushalayim. However, in reality, the means of transportation was not a red carpet which descended from the shamayim, but freight trains which came from the west to take them to the camps which ascended from Gehenom.

If the great teacher of Israel were alive today, I would ask him if God’s temple can descend from the heavens, why did our forefathers have to construct the Mishkan in the desert! And if Rashi would reply that the Mishkan was an act of repentance for the sin of the Golden Calf, so it was understandable that each individual was required to personally take part in the project, I would counter with many more questions. But I am quite certain that Rashi would have an answer to them all. But at the end of the day, I would most humbly request the great rabbi’s forgiveness and suggest my personal understanding of what will descend from the shamayim.

The future Bet Hamikdash will be constructed with Israeli-Jewish hands. Huge cranes will fill the area of the Temple Mount, sharing space with architects, construction engineers, electricians, computer engineers, draftsmen, stone craftsmen, hydraulic experts and all else that the project will require. Some will be Kohanim, some Leviim some Yisraelim, many will be tehorim (ritually pure) some might not be, all in the spirit of what the Rambam writes in the Laws of the Temple.

I would say to the great teacher, again in absolute humility, that what he received from his rabbis which he then recorded in his commentary that the future Bet HaMikdash will descend from the heavens, does not refer to the physical aspects of the building, but to the last act which will transcend the building form cold stone and mortar into a living bond between the worlds. That just as in the time of the Mishkan the fire for the altar descended from heaven, so it will be again in the future Bet HaMikdash – the spirit of HaShem will shine its countenance upon our actions and we will blessed with peace, as in the daily blessing of the Kohanim.

The final act of grace will descend from the highest realms of heaven, to bless the actions of the Jews who survived the galut to pick up where our ancestors left off 2000 years ago .

I can see an angel standing at the site dressed as a work forman selecting his work crews from a long line of Jews. One man will come forward and relate that he came from Iraq in 1950 with nine children to live in a tent on the beach of Tel Aviv. He had no time to learn the way he would have wanted because the needs of the family were upon him as a poor shoe-maker . But in the hardest times never did he nor his wife nor his children ever entertain the idea of leaving the land (I know the man). The angel will point to the right and say to the man “worker”.

The next in line will be a young man who will stand with Gemara in hand and will relate that he learns Torah in a Eretz Yisrael Hesder Yeshiva. The angel will point to the right and say “worker.”

The third on line will approach with his head bent and in a low whisper admit that he was lax in the keeping of mitzvot, but raised his head when relating that he had served in Tzahal and was wounded twice. The angel will point to the right and utter the word “worker.”

Then will come the turn of others who had just arrived in Eretz Yisrael when learning of the revelations in the Holy Land, to them the angel will point to the left and say “spectator.”

And how do I know this, am I a Prophet!?

No! No! Not a prophet, but I have eyes to see what is transpiring here in the holy land, and the ability to compare it to what our holy prophets and rabbis taught.

Look at the present. Every day, we in Eretz Yisrael are building the future Bet HaMikdash. The shoe-maker, the talmid chacham who divides his time between the holy Torah and defending the people of Israel, the secular soldier, all of us here today in the holy land are putting stone on stone, in the rebuilding of the future Temple.

You might ask: what does the rebuilding the land have to do with the future Bet HaMikdash?

The Gemara in Ta’anit 5,a says:

אמר רבי יוחנן: אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא לא אבוא בירושלים של מעלה עד שאבוא לירושלים של מטה

Rabbi Yochanan states: The Holy One Be He declared, “I will not come into the heavenly Yerushalayim until I will first come to the earthly Yerushalayim

The heavenly Yerushalayim will not be rebuilt until the earthy one is built, and the earthly Yerushalayim will be built in synchrony with the progress in building the land.

Those who are with us in creating the infrastructure of the resurrected holy land will celebrate with us in the consecration of the completed Bet HaMikdash. Those who seek foreign lands and pleasures will, in the future, stand by the side as spectators witnessing a gala event, while being prevented to enter into the joys they see but cannot feel.

Shabbat Shalom, Nachman Kahana

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.