Rebuilding the Mikdash Today – Truma


וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם. (שמות כה, ח)

There is a machloket in the Midrashim and subsequently between Rashi and the Ramban (quoting the Midrashim), as to the reason why Am Yisrael were commanded to build a Mikdash (not a Mishkan, a Mikdash). According to Rashi, it was the aftermath of חֵטְא הָעֵגֶל and was to atone for that sin. According to the Ramban, the concept of building a Mikdash was already ordained during Creation and had nothing to do with חֵטְא הָעֵגֶל. In a previous shiur (Truma 2021) I try to reconcile these two opinions using the premise that both were correct – the Mikdash was pre-planned from Creation, but the חֵטְא הָעֵגֶל necessitated various changes and additions.

In his introduction to sefer Shmot, the Ramban calls Shmot by another name – סֵפֶר הַגָּלוּת וְהַגְּאֻלָּה. The Ramban continues to ask – "If the essence of the book of Shmot is our exile in Egypt and the Exodus, then sefer Shmot should have ended after Matan Torah. Instead, the second half of sefer Shmot deals with the Mishkan. What place does this material have in the book of exile and redemption?  A better place to describe the Mishkan would be in Vayikra – first detail the structure of the Mishkan followed by the Avodah in it!"

The Ramban answers that until the Mishkan was built, the redemption was incomplete. Only after the Mishkan was built and HKB"H's Shechina resided in it, did we return to the reality that existed in the time of the Avot, where HKB"H's Shechina resided in a cloud over their tents, there was candle lit from erev Shabbat to erev Shabbat (Menorah), there was a blessing in the dough (Lechem Hapanim) and their tents were open on all sides (Yalkut Shimon, Breishit 24, 67). According to the Ramban, this was the purpose of building the Mishkan – to duplicate the reality in the homes of the Avot.

All (or hopefully most) of us yearn for the Geulah and the 3rd Beit HaMikdash to be rebuilt (It is one of the questions HKB"H asks us when we ascend to Heaven after 120 – "Did you yearn for the Geulah?")

 Every morning after saying Korbanot, we implore HKB"H –

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱ-לֹקֵינוּ וֵא-לֹקֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁיִּבָּנֶה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ וְתֵן חֶלְקֵנוּ בְּתוֹרָתֶךָ.

In Shirat Hayam every morning we quote the passuk –

תְּבִאֵמוֹ וְתִטָּעֵמוֹ בְּהַר נַחֲלָתְךָ מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ פָּעַלְתָּ ה' מִקְּדָשׁ ה' כּוֹנְנוּ יָדֶיךָ

Three times every day in Shmoneh Esrei we say –

וּמֵבִיא גוֹאֵל לִבְנֵי בְנֵיהֶם לְמַעַן שְׁמוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה

וְלִירוּשָׁלַיִם עִירְךָ בְּרַחֲמִים תָּשׁוּב וְתִשְׁכֹּן בְּתוֹכָהּ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ וּבְנֵה אוֹתָהּ בְּקָרוֹב בְיָמֵינוּ בִּנְיַן עוֹלָם

וְהָשֵׁב אֶת הָעֲבוֹדָה לִדְבִיר בֵּיתֶךָ

At the end of Shacharit we say –

אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה בְּבִיאַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ

In Birkat HaMazon we ask HKB"H –

רַחֶם נָא ה' אֱ-לֹקֵינוּ עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּךָ, וְעַל יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִירֶךָ, וְעַל צִיּוֹן מִשְׁכַּן כְּבוֹדֶךָ .... וּבְנֵה יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִיר הַקֹּדֶשׁ בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ

On Sukkot we add –

הַרָחֲמָן הוּא יָקִים לָנוּ אֶת סֻכַּת דָּוִד הַנּוֹפֶלֶת

After the Pesach Seder, at the end of Ne'ila on Yom Kippur and after Hakafot on Simchat Torah we sing –

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָיִם הַבְּנוּיָה

At weddings we break a glass and sing –

אִם אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלָ͏ִם תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי

Whether we like it, or not, whether we consciously pay attention to and actually understand what we are saying, or not …  the concept of yearning for the Geulah and the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash is constantly there! In our prayers, in our rituals, minhagim, etc, regardless of whether we are "religious", "devout", "observant", or not. Even those who are furthest removed from Yiddishkeit, who consider themselves (so-called) "secular" or "cultural" Jews - light a Channukiya on Channukah. Chazal planned things that way so that we would never forget this cornerstone of our faith and eventually meet our Maker with the right answer to the question "Did you yearn for the Geulah?"

How ironic is it that the term "Meshichi" (A 'Messianic' Jew) has in our day and age been perverted into something derogatory. If you want to stereotype someone as a "fanatic" you call them "Meshichi". We hear it 24/7 on all the media channels. There is no such thing - a Jew who is not Meshichi. If you are not Meshichi, you simply are not Jewish, period. It is not only an integral part of Judaism - it is a major chunk of Judaism.

If you were to ask someone "On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of your daily energy is devoted to rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash?" you would probably get varying answers.

If you were to ask Professor Zohar Amar from the Land of Israel Studies in Bar Ilan University, author of umpteen books and papers of intense research into the various components of the Mikdash – the Menachot, the Ketoret, the Economics, etc. the answer would probably be in the 7-9 range. If you asked HaRav Yisrael Ariel שליט"א, head of Machon of HaMikdash in Jerusalem, the answer would be between 9-10. If you asked yours truly, head of Machon Lechem Hapanim, the answer would be in the 6-8 range.

So, you are probably saying to yourself "OK, but these 'meshugeners' – that is their life, their job. Obviously - they will be on the top end of the scale. I'm just a regular person just struggling to be a good Jew, to keep the mitzvot as best I can, to be a good person, to help others, to study as much Torah as I can, while supporting my family, running a home ….  Not everyone is intended to be an active 'rebuilder of the Beit Mikdash'!"

In this shiur I would like to present an ENORMOUS chiddush regarding the rebuilding of the 3rd Beit HaMikdash, here it is –

"The 3rd Beit HaMikdash is not going to be rebuilt at some unknown point in the future by someone else. It is going to be rebuilt today, by you!"

No, this is not some Hollywood science-fiction movie or some delusional rant by someone high on amphetamines. It is the simple truth. Let me explain.

We all already have the 3rd Beit Mikdash, we just don't realize it, because we do not think of it in that way. Just like the Beit Mikdash in the time of Shlomo HaMelech had different buildings and structures, so too, today – there are two structures that everyone already has that are parts of the Beit HaMikdash – our shul and our homes.

Allow me to run through a typical day in your life (taking Friday as an example), from a completely different perspective and you will soon understand what I mean.

It begins when you wake up in the morning. Most of us wake up every morning using an alarm clock. It is usually some type of bedside accessory, perhaps your cell phone. For example, my wife's alarm clock is – me! My alarm clock is usually my stomach, but when that fails, a small beeping digital clock next to my bed does the trick (99% of the time – except when I forget to set it, oversleep and incur the wrath of the rest of the household).

3000 years ago, in Yerushalayim, they never had cell phones They did have stomachs and they also had a fail-safe (like me). There was a central municipal "alarm clock" for the entire city of Yerushalayim – the humungous golden doors of the Heichal of the Beit Hamikdash - that were designed specifically that when they were opened, they made an enormous CLANG that was so loud, it reverberated throughout the city and woke everyone up – you couldn't sleep through such a racket! What time did the city of Yerushalayim wake up? A few minutes before נֵץ הַחַמָּה, just before the first glimpse of the sun on the horizon, when the Avodah began – the shechita of the Tamid. This week (11-16 Feb 2024) in Jerusalem, Israel נֵץ הַחַמָּה time is 7:22am, so we are talking about around 7:20am

If you are up before or around that time, you are already with the Beit HaMikdash "program" (if you wake up later than that, you may want to reconsider trying to "get-with-the-program"). If you want to be even more authentic, look for a ringtone on your cellphone alarm clock that sounds like enormous gates clanging!

What is the first thing you do when you wake up (I am talking about – after that lazy stretch and waking your wife!) – Modeh Ani and washing your hands three times on each hand with a נָטְלָה, right? Then the morning "toilette" and again נְטִילַת יָדַיִם with a נָטְלָה, twice on each hand. So far – your daily routine is 1:1 to that of the Kohanim in the Beit Hamikdash 3000 years ago (back then, the morning "toilette" was down the stairs of the Beit HaMoked, a building just north of the Mizbeach).

Then dressing. You already have your kippah on (migba'at) from when you woke up. Now, add to that the underclothes (michnas), tzitzit, the "over clothes", shirt, pants (ketonet), socks and shoes (OK, the Kohanim back then were barefoot, but never mind), the belt holding your pants up (avnet). Deodorant (ketoret). Time to head to shul for Shacharit – hat (migba'at) on your head (for some the kippah is the hat).

You arrive at shul. Wash hands before entering the main sanctuary (kiyor) (you already washed your feet last night when you showered). You enter the shul with a sense of awe, reciting מַה טֹּבוּ אֹהָלֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב, entering and approaching your seat from the right side. Tallit, tefillin. The Kohanim back then in the Mikdash were פָּטוּר from תְּפִלִּין שֶׁל יָד, but it is a machloket whether they wore שֶׁל רֹאשׁ or not (Zevachin 19a, Erchin 3b). Yisraelim/Levi'im most likely wore תְּפִלִּין all day, for sure in the Beit Mikdash (Bava Batra 60b).

Korbanot, the passage of the Tamid, the Ketoret. The rest of the tefilla, including הִשְׁתַּחֲוֻיּוֹת in the Amida, Birkat Kohanim. Shir Shel Yom.

Back home for breakfast and then begin preparing for Shabbat. Help your wife bake/buy the challahs. It doesn't matter if you or your wife bake the challahs yourselves or buy them from the bakery – in the Beit Hamikdash the Kohanim who ate Lechem HaPanim on Shabbat didn't bake it themselves – they got it from the "Beit Garmu Bakery" (Lishkat Osei Lechem HaPanim). Baking challahs yourself is a perk though - you get to do Hafrashat Challah, like Sarah Imeinu. Prepare the cholent and the other meals (Korbanot). The fragrances of delicious Shabbat cooking waft through the house and the neighborhood (Ketoret). Set the table (Shulchan). The husband prepares the wicks for the Shabbat candles (Hatavat HaNeirot). Showering for Shabbat (Kiyor). Everyone dresses in Shabbat clothes (Bigdei Kehuna). The wife lights the candles (Menorah).

Shabbat day Tefilot (מוּסָפִין).  Birkat Kohanim. Kiddush (נִסּוּךְ הַיַּיִן). Mizmor le'Yom ha'Shabbat, Anim Zemirot (שִׁירַת הַלְּוִיִּים). Eating Lechem Mishne (Lechem Hapanim). Shabbat meals (קָרְבָּנוֹת בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ וַאֲכִילָה בָּעֲזָרָה). Zemirot (more שִׁירַת הַלְּוִיִּים). Divrei Torah. Mincha (תָּמִיד שֶׁל בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם).

What I have described above is a typical Friday/Shabbat in a Jewish home – TODAY! I added in brackets the very same things that paralleled it in the Beit HaMikdash 3000 years ago.

The only factor missing from our current, regular, daily lives that we had 3000 years ago when Beit Hamikdash existed is – THE ASSOCIATION!

The reality of the Beit HaMikdash is very much alive and pulsating in our modern Jewish lives, we just don't acknowledge it as such. To us, it is just the "normal Jewish routine".

When we bake Shabbat challahs, most of us don't think Sarah Imeinu. When we smell our wife's delicious Shabbat cooking, most of us don't think Ketoret. When we set the Shabbat table, most of us don't think Shulchan Lechem HaPanim. When we shower before Shabbat, most of us don't think Kiyor. When we dress in Shabbat clothes, most of us think Gucci, not Bigdei Kehuna. When we sing Dror Yikra at the table, most of us think Beach Boys, not Shirat HaLevi'im.

Friends – we are already living lives according to the reality of the Beit Hamikdash! The 3rd Beit HaMikdash has already been rebuilt! It is there in our shuls and in our homes, we just don't see it, our eyes and minds are focused on other things. All it takes is a tiny shift of mindset, an opening of the eyes, a directing of the thoughts – to make the Beit HaMikdash a reality. It doesn't require much change in our routine. All it requires is the association and the recognition. It is a tiny thing but it transforms our reality.

The purpose of the Beit HaMikdash was not to erect a fancy building with tons of gold and splendor. It was to create a framework, the infrastructure in which HKB"H's Shechina can dwell.

The Ramban says that building the Mishkan was a return to the reality of the Avot. Avraham and Sarah did not have golden tables in their tent. They did not have seven branched Menorahs – they had the infrastructure to welcome the Shechina, without need for pomp and splendor. It was in their hearts and minds and in their home. That is where the real Beit Hamikdash was, וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם.

So, what is the deal with the Mishkan and the Beit Hamikdash and all the Keilim and all the structures and ceremonies and all that?

That was a seminar! A three-times-a-year, compulsory seminar for all of Am Yisrael to receive a refresher course. If you "messed up", your visits needed to be more frequent to bring Korbanot to make things right. The Beit HaMikdash was the "exhibition ground" of all the models that comprise the blueprint of the structure that is necessary to house the Shechina. Am Yisrael were עוֹלֶה לָרֶגֶל and saw the Shulchan, they saw the Menorah, they watched the Korbanot being offered on the Mizbeach, they heard the Shirat Halevi'im, the smelled the Ketoret – they learned all the מוּסְרֵי הַשְׂכֵּל that each of these elements embody and they took them back with them and applied them in their homes, in their shuls – in their lives. They remade their own homes and communities according to the blueprint of the structure in which the Shechina can reside.

We all want the 3rd Beit HaMikdash to be rebuilt, but what is the purpose of rebuilding it? The ultimate purpose is to have the Shechina reside within us, within our homes, within our communities, within Am Yisrael. We have to want to invite the Shechina in! We have to want the Shechina to be an integral part of our lives, to imbue every facet of our lives, so that we can live our daily lives enveloped by the Shechina, like the Avot. Not just three times a year, not just when it is convenient for us, but 24/7.

We have all the elements of the Beit HaMikdash already in place in our current lives, in our homes and in our shuls. The question is how much do we want to invite the Shechina in? Do we consider our homes and shuls a structure to house the Shechina or not? How much self-respect do we have for our homes and our shuls? Are they a reflection of the Beit HaMikdash or not? How do we behave in our homes and our shuls? Can we imagine ourselves behaving in the Beit HaMikdash that way?

To rebuild the 3rd Beit HaMikdash is not some distant dream – it is right now – in our own lives! It is a simple shift in mindset. That is all it takes. On the scale of 1 – 10 above, everyone can easily score 10 by simply changing their mindset, nothing more.

Unfortunately, we do not have the physical Beit HaMikdash, we don't have somewhere we can physically go and observe the model. However, we have the next best thing – the documentation. Every facet of the Beit HaMikdash is documented in the Mishna, the Gemara, the commentaries. If we want to understand the blueprint, all we need to do is examine the "user's manual". It has never been more accessible. Myriad books collate and simplify the subject matter and make it accessible to anyone. There are resources in print, online and even real-life where people can go to see and learn. Machon HaMikdash, Mishkan Shilo, Machon Lechem Hapanim, umpteen numbers of seminars and workshops in everything from Ketoret to Shirat Halevi'im and everything in-between.

The 3rd Beit HaMikdash is within our grasp. All we have to do is invite it in. We have to yearn for it. Not yearn for it to be rebuilt far away from us on a mountain, where we go three times a year to pay homage. We have to yearn for the essence and purpose of the Beit HaMikdash, the blueprint - to be an integral part of our daily lives and everything we do.

We are not lacking artisans, architects, specialists and artists to rebuild the 3rd Beit Hamikdash. We simply have to make the choice. Do we want HKB"H to be an integral part of our lives or do we want Him kept at a distance and not "interfere" with us?

When we choose the former then the Geulah has arrived.  


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