Parashat Teruma: A Bodily Temple

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22 Feb 2007

Part One: And I shall dwell within you

Shemot 25:8 Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell within them

There is a problem with this pasuk (verse). Should it not rather say:

Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell within it

I suggest the following:

Tractate Yoma 69b relates that Ezra the Scribe, Kohen Gadol (high priest) of the time and re-builder of the Second Temple, acted to eradicate the compulsion for avodah zara (misunderstood to pertain only to idolatry. “Zara” means foreign or strange, and refers to the replacement of Torah with any other alternative “lifestyle,” such as communism, socialism, anarchy, including also the Conservative and Reform movements), which was the root cause of the first Temple’s destruction and exile of the majority of the Jewish nation.

Ezra and his colleagues fasted for three days and nights, after which they saw the fiery form of a lion cub exiting from the Kodesh Kedoshim (the Holy of Holies). It was the corporal form of human compulsion for avodah zara, which from that time on, although present, is very much weakened.

This requires an explanation:

For the answers to these questions we have to turn to our parsha, Teruma.

In the parsha, Hashem commands Moshe to construct a dismantling, portable Bet HaMikdash – the Mishkan and its required vessels.

The basic structure of the Mishkan was two rooms – the inner sanctum (Kodesh HaKodashim), which was off limits to all except for the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, and the outer sanctum, the Kodesh. This two room structure was enclosed in a court-yard called the azarah.

These three elements – Kodesh HaKodashim, Kodesh and Azarah – were present in the Bet HaMikdash of Shlomo HaMelech and of Ezra HaSofer, and will be so again in the next Bet HaMikdash – soon to be built.

At the time of the Mishkan and first Mikdash, the Kadosh HaKodashim contained the Holy Ark, but during the second Temple period it was an empty room. In all three structures, the Kodesh area contained three vessels: the menorah, the altar for burning of the beautiful aromatic Ketoret, and a table for the Lechem HaPanim (show bread).

Upon leaving the Kodesh and after passing through a vestibule (the Ulam), one exits into the court yard (the Azarah) which contains the large altar for burning of the innards of the respective sacrifices.

The higher level sacrifices (Kodshei Kadashim) such as the Ola, Chatat and Asham sacrifices are required to be slaughtered and their blood collected in the northern area of the Azarah.

Go now and stand before a mirror. What do you see? A head, two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Look down and you will see a neck which leads to the internal areas of the heart, stomach, etc.

You are looking at a human being. But if you look closer you will see one of the most profound creations in Hashem’s world – a miniature Bet HaMikdash.

The uppermost part of your body – the head, contains two areas – an inner sanctum – your Kodesh HaKodashim, and an outer sanctum. The Kodesh HaKodashim of you is your hidden brain and hidden thoughts, which like the Kodesh HaKodashim of the Mishkan and Bet HaMikdash no one can enter your secret thoughts without your permission.

It is interesting to note, that the brain is enclosed in a double membrane, and the entrance to the Kodesh HaKodashim in the second Temple was through a double curtain.

We leave the area of your head and view your face.

We find ourselves in your outer sanctum or kodesh; for it contains all the elements of the Kodesh: Your eyes are like the menorah, your nose with its sense of smell is like the altar for the beautiful aroma of the Ketoret, and your mouth is the table of the “show bread” called Lechem HaPanim, for it is an essential part of your Panim (face).

We leave your Kodesh and pass through the big doors leading to the Azarah (courtyard).

This area contains your stomach and other digestive organs just as the altars of the Mishkan and Batei HaMikdash burn the food placed upon it by the Kohanim to give nourishment and life to this world.

When one leaves the Bet HaMikdash he faces east with his back to the west, and in order to get to the north where the higher korbanot are slaughtered one must turn to the left. When you proceed from your face to the lower area, your heart is to your left. It is in your heart that the upper korbanot and higher emotional feelings are processed.

Yes; we are all virtual living, walking, breathing Batei Mikdash.

But more. The Kodesh HaKodashim (inner minds and thoughts) of all Jews are connected by invisible cables to the Kadosh HaKodashim of the Heavenly Bet HaMikdash. The outer sanctums indelibly forged on our faces are connected to the Kodesh area of the heavenly Bet HaMikdash; so too, the heart and digestive organs are connected to their spiritual counter parts.

When Ezra HaSofer removed the yetzer hara of avodah zara from the inner sanctum of the Bet HaMikdash, the effect was its removal from all our “work stations” connected to the “main frame” in the Kodesh HaKodashim in Yerushalayim.

The implications are far reaching. Something died within us when the Bet HaMikdash was destroyed. Our connection to the earthly Bet HaMikdash was aborted and we are now connected only to the heavenly one, until the time when we shall again have the Bet HaMikdash in Yerushalayim. How does one connect with the heavenly Bet HaMikdash?

The answer to this is the sum total of all which I have written for the last several months.

This can be achieved by purifying our inner and outer sanctums, and all our other organs around within us. But it is only in Yerushalayim and in Eretz Yisrael that this re-connection can be forged.

Part Two: We can learn from them

I have just returned to my home in the Old City of Yerushalayim, having had to pass the David’s Citadel Hotel.

The hotel is in virtual siege, because the United Sates Secretary of State, Dr. Rice, was meeting there with our Prime Minister and the treacherous Abu Mazen.

What gripped me as I was passing was the convergence of so many TV and satellite vehicles parked along King David Street. I counted 20 from different countries in that area alone with more on the side streets. The entire world was here to see what is happening in Eretz Yisrael.

I approached a Jewish soldier from Ethiopia and said to him, “Look! a little country of 6 million Jews and the whole world is here.” He said to me “Am Yisrael Chai”, and we embraced each other in a long hug.

I advanced about 50 meters and stood before two soldiers, a young man and woman, and repeated to them my feelings that the whole world is here to see the Jewish people. The girl soldier said to me, “Eretz HaKodesh.”

During the rest of my trek home I was under a sad cloud.

How is it that the gentiles of the world feel the intrinsic importance of “Am Yisrael” and “Eretz HaKodesh,” while our religious leaders in the galut disregard and even disdain its sanctity?

Can it be that they are more interested in an ox which gores a cow then in the return of the Jewish nation to the holy land after 2000 years of exile!?

One who is not elated at the renaissance of our people today in Eretz Yisrael is one who on the night of the seder is more troubled that the marror might not be the chumra size rather than being elated at our exodus from Egypt and nationhood.

My heart hurts for the students and congregants who have fallen victim to the sweet song of aloofness and escape from national and religious responsibility being sung to them in many yeshivot and shuls, as I fell victim as a youth in yeshivot of the US.

It so very sad that in a way the Jews of the US are repeating the actions of the Jews of Shushan, who dined at the King’s party while eating from the vessels taken from the Bet HaMikdash.

May Hashem permit us to understand who we are and the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael, at least to the degree that the non-Jewish news media understands.

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.