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August 1, 2016 3:49 am

Rebuilding the Third Temple

avatar by Lieba Rudolph

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The Temple Mount. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The Temple Mount. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

If you’re looking for the mothership of Jewish guilt, it can be found in our responsibility to rebuild the Third Temple — Beit Hamikdash.

Our sages say that if we don’t witness its rebuilding, it’s as if we witness its destruction. The details of what happened almost 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, are gruesome and painful. And the tragedy continues, certainly in the sense that the Jewish nation remains vulnerable, a by-product of being scattered and without true sovereignty.

The key to rebuilding is straightforward enough: Because the Temple’s destruction was caused by sinat hinam, unwarranted hatred among Jews, its rebuilding is effected through ahavat hinam, our unwarranted love for each other. Somehow, some way, we need to think of every Jew like family. Our “random acts of kindness,” along with our learning about the Temple so we realize what we’re missing, have the power to transform Tisha B’Av, our emblem of darkness, into the ultimate light.

The problem is that it’s been almost 2,000 years, and a lot of people have stopped feeling guilty that it hasn’t been done.

Before I became observant, I thought the Temple was a synagogue on steroids. I figured it was probably a lovely edifice, but I didn’t understand the tears over not having it. Which means that if most people have heard of “The Three Weeks,” the simple yet eery name for the three weeks leading up to the Temple’s destruction, they probably don’t think much about them.

But once you’re attuned to them, the discomfort of the Three Weeks is very real; it’s a time when the Jewish nation, individually and collectively, is both vulnerable and mournful. Just the other day while I was out walking, I saw the flashing lights of a police car in the distance. The car appeared to be right in front of the building where my son and daughter-in-law work. I quickly calculated the disaster possibilities. “Nah, it can’t be,” I reassured myself. But I am very mindful that if something unthinkable were to happen, G-d forbid, this could be a likely time.

While there’s a part of me that wants to get the whole Three Weeks/Tisha B’Av uneasiness over with, I need to recalibrate: the uneasiness should motivate me to realize what is lacking in a world without a Temple — and to do something more about it. Especially because Tisha B’Av time is arguably the most auspicious time for the Temple’s rebuilding to start. Just as the Three Weeks are real, and Tisha B’Av is real, the Third Temple is just as real. And the Third Temple is the sine qua non of the Messianic era, the time when all physicality will reveal its G-dly source. Forever. (Our minds lack the ability to imagine what this era will be like; for now, just imagine being able to say, “it’s all good” and really mean it.)

Feeling guilty is not enough. I need to do more to make the Temple a reality — and that includes recruiting anyone and everyone who wants to be part of the rebuilding campaign. (No good deed is too small.)

As for the moments when I question why I should merit to witness this glorious moment? I have no idea. I just try to stay focused on this: the fact that the Temple hasn’t been rebuilt in 2,000 years tells us that it’s more likely to be rebuilt in our lifetimes, not less. Because G-d promised us that it’s going to happen — and because today is an infinitely better day for it than tomorrow.

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  • Hana

    Thanks for that piece Lieba!
    My mind is always refreshed and reset by your original and personal take on current events that cleverly spin and tie the distant past in our history with our promising , prophetic future….

  • Jay Lavine

    The Temple that needs to be rebuilt is the Temple of our hearts.

    Consider some of the less commonly discussed forms of sinat chinam. The divisive Israeli dichotomy of religious vs. secular is a kind of put-down, implying that anyone who doesn’t observe as I do is totally separated from the Jewish faith and way of life — not true in most cases.

    Even the term “observant” can sometimes be construed as a put-down, implying that those who don’t observe as I do are not observant.

    Who is observant?

    Who are Jews?
    People who follow the Jewish way of life.

    What is the Jewish way of life?
    Being respectful of and loving toward all of Briyut.

    When the balance tips because of a preponderance of people now following the Jewish way of life, then we will have our Temple.

    May Hakadosh Baruch Hu rebuild the Temple of our hearts speedily and in our time.

  • The UN must be dismantled. It is a criminal enterprise.

    As an example of the way in which the principles of pan-Arab national self-determination then applied to Israel, Stone cited:
    a letter dated February 20, 1980 to the Secretary-General, transmitted for UN circulation to the General Assembly and the Security Council in connection with item 26 of A/35/11000-S/13816 (Situation in the Middle East) [which] declared a propos of inclusion in the Charter of a principle of non-use of force:
    “The principle of non-use of force shall apply to the relations of the Arab Nation and Arab States with the nations and countries neighboring the Arab homeland. Naturally, as you know, the Zionist entity is not included, because the Zionist entity is not considered a State, but a deformed entity occupying an Arab territory. It is not covered by these principles.

    How many holidays do the Arabs-Muslims celebrate due to historical events in the land of ancient Israel and Jerusalem. r9
    The Jewish people celebrate most of their holidays and fast days in memory of Jerusalem and Israel since 70 AD (that is over 2,000 years).
    Jewish people pray at least 3 times a day, remembering Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple destruction. Pleading the Jewish goal and aspiration to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem – where it was before it was destroyed and desecrated by the enemies of the Jews. Most of the Jewish prayers for thousands of years recite the love of Israel and the Jewish aspirations to return to their ancestral land and bring back its glory and holiness.
    At Jewish weddings they break a glass in memory of Jerusalem and the aspiration to return and build the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
    Every day at the end of the meal the Jews recite a blessing and thank G-d for providing sustenance and beseech G-d to return and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
    Most Jewish prayers mention our glorious memory of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple and pleading to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
    YJ Draiman

    Unity above all
    We must learn to respect each other no matter what the religious affiliation or secular. We are all Jews, one people and one nation.
    We must look ahead and learn from past mistakes and not dwell on them and look for blame. We must be unified and with a cohesive effort, we will find a solution.
    The one thing that is common to all of solutions is that they required — or at least relied on — the other party’s good will. But in the absence of such a will, every agreement you attempt to implement is doomed before it has even started. Therefore, we must look not at the agreements we can or can’t achieve with our neighbors, but rather look at the agreements that we can achieve with ourselves!
    Our motto should be something like, “When the going gets tough, the good get going,” because this is all we need to do — lend a friendly hand to one another, no questions asked. As we have been told a million times before, this unity will unleash all the powers we need in order to resolve our problems: social, economic, and political — both internally and internationally.
    “A Unified Israel is A Strong Israel”
    YJ Draiman