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Shabbat schedule - Friday - Shabbat, March 11 - 12, 2016
Halachic Times
Earliest Tefillin (latest of the week): 5:26 AM, after daylight saving time begins, 6:21 AM
Latest Shma (earliest of the week): 9:06 AM, after daylight saving time begins, 10:00 AM
Torah Reading: Pekudei (Exodus 38:21 - 40:38)
Haftorah : I Kings 7:51 - 8:21
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 5:41 PM
Shabbat ends: 6:40 PM
Shabbat Chazzak
Rosh Chodesh Adar II is Thursday and Friday, March 10 & 11
Torah for the Times
By Rabbi Heschel Greenberg
Job Well Done
The book of Exodus ends with the completion of the Mishkan (Tabernacle, the portable Sanctuary in the desert). The efforts of the Jewish people are summed up:
“All the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting was completed. The children of Israel had done everything that G‑d had commanded Moses, so had they done!”
Two questions have been raised concerning this verse:
First, the statement that “the children of Israel did everything that G‑d had commanded Moses” is quite clear. Why then does the Torah have to repeat itself by stating: “so had they done?”
Second, why does the Torah have to emphasize that they did everything? Wouldn’t it have sufficed to say that they followed Moses’ instructions? What construction detail would we have thought they could have left out?
Allusion to the Bais Hamikdash
The great Sephardic Sage and Kabbalist, Rabbi Chaim Palachi (1788-1869, of Izmir, Turkey), in his work R’ei Chaim, explains that this verse is a hint to the third and final Bais Hamikdash-Holy Temple.
According to the Midrash, cited by Rashi in his commentary on the Talmud, the third Bais Hamikdash already exists, fully constructed, in the heavens and will descend at the time of the future Redemption.
Why then has the Temple not yet descended, if it is already complete? Rabbi Chaim Palachi answers: it is waiting for us to do our part, through Teshuvah and good deeds.
This, he writes, is the message in the words ““All the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting was completed.” It refers to the future Holy Temple. Mishkan (Tabernacle) and Mikdash (Temple), the Talmud states (Eiruvin 2a), are used interchangeably in the Torah. Hence, the reference to the completion of the Mishkan alludes to the completion of the Final Temple. The fact that the Torah uses the past tense indicates that even the final Temple has already been completed.
The Torah continues on, to supply the answer to the question, when will it appear?
“The children of Israel had done everything that G‑d had commanded Moses.” When we will have done “everything that G‑d had commanded Moses,” not just the actual instructions concerning the Mishkan, but all of the commandments imparted to us by Moses, then the third Holy Temple will descend.
While this ingenious reinterpretation of the verse answers the question “why,” it adds the word “everything” to incorporate all of the commandments, so we still have not answered the question why the Torah seemingly repeats itself with the words “so had they done.”
Two Scenarios
To answer this question it is important for us to understand why there are two versions of how the third Bais Hamikdash will be built:
As stated, Rashi maintains that the Bais Hamikdash will descend from above, fully constructed.
Rambam (based on the Jerusalem Talmud and other Midrashic sources), however, rules that Moshiach will build the Bais Hamikdash. This does not mean that he will build it singlehandedly. Rather, it will be built by the Jewish people under Moshiach’s direction. The Rambam, therefore, included the laws of the Temple’s construction in his Mishneh Torah, so that when Moshiach receives the signal from Above to build it, we will be familiar with the laws concerning its construction.
How do we reconcile these two views? Either G‑d has already built the Bais Hamikdash or we will be the ones to build it. How can it be both ways?
The Rebbe provided several approaches to reconciling these two scenarios. One approach is that it will depend on the manner in which the Redemption occurs. If we are meritorious and the Redemption occurs because of our virtuous behavior it will be a miraculous Redemption and a miraculous Temple will descend from above. If, however, our efforts fall short of the mark and we are not sufficiently refined and meritorious, we will have to build it ourselves.
Moreover, the Rebbe adds: After we build it ourselves, under the direction of Moshiach, the heavenly Temple will descend from above and merge itself into our physical Temple. This development will come about because after the Temple is built our level of worthiness will also change for the better.
Is it Physical or Spiritual?
To better comprehend the two scenarios let us try to understand what it means when the Sages say that the third Temple is already built. What is the nature of its construction? Is it a spiritual structure? Or is it actually a physical structure that is currently hidden from our view? Also, we must understand how it was constructed?
The answers hinge on a better understanding of the dynamic of a Mitzvah and how its performance leads to the Bais Hamikdash.
Whenever we perform a Mitzvah, we generate a G‑dly energy that contributes to the construction of the third Bais Hamikdash. When the world has accumulated a sufficient number of Mitzvos the Bais Hamikdash reaches its state of completion. This Bais Hamikdash enjoys the same twinned dynamic of a Mitzvah. A Mitzvah is both spiritual and physical; it generates a spiritual energy by way of the performance of a physical act that fuses the two worlds together. Thus, the definition of Bais Hamikdash is a physical structure that fully and unambiguously reflects divine energy.
The Decree
The Mitzvah-Bais Hamikdash dynamic is a reversal of the way the world existed in its initial stages.
When G‑d created the world, He created two parallel dimensions of existence; a host of spiritual worlds and a physical world, the one we inhabit. At the time of creation, however, a “decree” was issued that the two worlds would remain parallel lines that never meet. In the words of the Psalmist: “The heavens are G‑d’s heavens, but the earth He gave to the children of man.” The very word for “decree” in Hebrew is gezeirah, which also means “severance.” G‑d severed what should have been a natural partnership.
Before Sinai, one’s spiritual efforts could not have an impact on the physical world. The concept of holiness in the physical realm did not yet exist.
This all changed at Sinai. The decree of separation was rescinded and G‑d enabled us to fuse the parallel dimensions into a seamless unit. Whenever we perform a Mitzvah, which invariably involves physical objects and a physical body, we cause the spiritual to manifest itself within the physical.
In their aggregate, Mitzvah performances create a physical entity that is totally and manifestly reflective of the most sublime spiritual and G‑dly light. That is what we mean when we say that the third Temple is already fully built. It is not about the difference between a spiritual Temple or a physical one. It is about the physical and the spiritual as they are organically and seamlessly one. It will be a place where absolutely no trace of separation between the two realms will exist and from there it will reveal G‑d’s presence in the entire world.
However, while this Bais Hamikdash has long been completed due to the cumulative energy of all the Mitzvos we as a people have done for thousands of years it has yet to “descend,” i.e., materialize before our eyes of flesh. Why?
The answer is that while our collective efforts throughout the ages are sufficient to have created this unique structure, our generation has to do its part to reflect the unification of the dichotomous existences. While our challenge is to do more Mitzvos it is also about living a unified life.
Indeed, the Rebbe exhorted us on many occasions not to see Torah and the material world as disparate and conflicting entities. The Rebbe conditioned us to see that our physical existence is an extension of our Mitzvah observance. If we have a problem, we check our Mezuzos, to cite an example, but not because of we believe that a Mezuzah has some kind of magical power. Rather we check our Mezuzos in recognition that our physical lives are completely integrated with our spiritual lives. It is the most natural thing to link Mitzvah observance to every facet of our lives.
To the extent that we remove all the barriers in our perception of the physical and spiritual as unified dynamics we will have made the emergence of the third Bais Hamikdash our reality. Even if we are not ready, our building of the third Bais Hamikdash under the direction of Moshiach will catapult us into that mindset and we will then see the descent of the heavenly third Temple.
Changing G‑d’s words to “So it was”
We can now answer the question posed above, why the Torah adds the words “so had they done.” If the first part of the verse alludes to how our compliance with all of the commandments builds the heavenly Bais Hamikdash, the final words, “so had they done,” clarifies two points:
First, the cumulative efforts of all past generations must be followed by our following in their footsteps. We must do our part in living a non-dichotomous life.
Second, the word in Hebrew for “so” is “kain.” When G‑d created the world, He said for each day of creation, “let there be… and it was so.” There was one exception. On day one G‑d said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” It does not say “and it was so,” because the light that emerged was not the identical light that was intended. There was a dichotomy. Not until Sinai did we receive the potential power to reverse that inconsistency. And not until the generation of Redemption will we finally bring that potential to fruition, when there will no longer be any dichotomy between G‑ds’s ideals for this world and the way the world behaves.
Thus, the Torah states: “All the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting was completed. The children of Israel had done everything that G‑d had commanded Moses, so had they done!” Based on the above it tells us:
The third Bais Hamikdash is already complete because all the Mitzvos we have done throughout the ages have long reached critical mass. All that we need now is to finish our task by revealing the power of “kain-so,” the power of removing the dichotomy between the physical and spiritual so that the spiritual Temple materializes before our very eyes. May we see that happen now!
Moshiach Matters:
The birth of a Jewish child brings joy not only to his parents and extended family but to the entire Jewish people, for it signifies a step closer to the coming of Moshiach. The Talmud states that Moshiach will not arrive until "all the souls in guf" (the storehouse in which they await their descent into the physical world) have been born. The birth of a Jewish baby therefore hastens the Redemption and brings closer the blessings of the Messianic Era.