Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Place which HaShem your G-d Shall Choose

"The place which HaShem your G-d shall choose from all your tribes, to set His Name there."
(Deuteronomy 11:5)
Av 26, 5770/August 6, 2010

As Moshe rabbenu, (Moses our master), continues to teach the children of Israel about the land that awaits them on the other side of the Jordan, he begins to introduce a phrase which he will be repeating frequently, "The place which HaShem your G-d shall choose." (ibid) Of course, he is referring to Jerusalem and the place of the Holy Temple. Why does not G-d, (through Moshe), just say Jerusalem? Or Mount Moriah? Why the obfuscation? Is G-d being coy? No doubt G-d knew exactly the location of the "Place that He would choose," so why didn't He share this information with Israel? Concerning all the other commandments His instructions are quite clear. What makes G-d's choice for the site of His abode on earth any different?
Some sages have alluded to the "geo-political" situation that existed in Israel at the time. Had G-d made His choice known, before Israel even entered the land, her enemies might have built a stronghold around Jerusalem to keep her out. The price Israel would have to pay to gain control of Jerusalem and Mount Moriah would have been great, perhaps to great to bear. Certainly we can relate to the constraints of the geo-political realities surrounding the Temple Mount today. But G-d didn't hide His intentions to liberate Israel from Egyptian bondage, nor did He choose appeasement at the Sea of Reeds.
There may be two other messages informing G-d's decision to refrain, for the time, from explicitly designating Jerusalem as the site of His choice from which His Divine presence, the Shechinah, will emanate forth, to the four corners of the earth. Mount Moriah, the very spot upon which Avraham bound his son Yitzchak; the field, some years later, in which Yitzchak was praying when Rivkah, (Rebecca), his chosen bride arrived; the parcel of earth upon which Yaakov laid down his head to rest and dream of a ladder to heaven, and, according to Midrash, the place from which the earth was taken to form Adam the first man, and from which he later made an offering to G-d, is truly no ordinary place. Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount, is this single point in G-d's entire creation where primordial time and space, the material and the spiritual, the natural world and the supernatural, all intersect. It is the cosmic lodestone to which all reality must bend, the point in which all truth is rooted. The process of discovering such a location in the vast universe involves more than a map and a set of directions. No global positioning or satellite imaging can lock its coordinates into a place of this description.
And this leads to the second message intrinsically bound in G-d's choice to leave Jerusalem unnamed for the time. This discovery of Jerusalem is the discovery of the heart. When Avraham was instructed to go to the land of Moriah, he was told by G-d to ascend "on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you," (Genesis 22:2) he was being commanded by G-d to discover the place on his own, according to the truth he bore in his heart. Now G-d is instructing Israel, through Moshe, to do the same. To make the journey through space and time and the soul and to trust that the truth of Torah that they possessed in their hearts would lead them to the Truth of Truths, to the heart of Truth, the source to which all truth leads, to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, the Holy Temple.
All nations are blessed with their own glimpses into the Divine via the grandeur of creation which is a constant testimony to the greatness of G-d. The nations encompassing the Arctic Circle have the Northern Lights to declare the glory of G-d. Tibet is possessor of the lofty Himalayans. Brazil is blessed with the mighty waters of the Amazon and the life giving abundance of the rain forests. Israel, and only Israel, is the place in which G-d chose to house His innermost Divine presence, and to require of man to build for Him a Sanctuary, the He may dwell amongst us. Are we ready to rediscover Jerusalem in our hearts?

Temple TalkTune in to this week's Temple Talk with Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven, as they take on the parshat Re’eh, challenge to “see” the difference between the blessing of listening to Hashem’s commandments, and the curse of ignoring them. The Torah makes it clear that the fate of our presence in the Land of Israel is hanging in the balance of this decision… a decision we all must make, both as individuals and as a nation. The Rabbi and Yitzchak opine that this is exactly what is happening moment by moment today in Israel, as our people are caught in the middle of this struggle for identity, even while G-d urges us to make the right choice. The sanctity of the Land of Israel is above the muck of political correctness and democratic values. The show concludes with a contemporary tale of chutzpa, idolatry and the expropriation of Judaism.

The Holy Temple DefiledThe Rape of the Holy Temple: Everyone knows that the Holy Temple was twice destroyed on Tisha B’Av. But this year, we read of attempts that were already underway to destroy the Third Temple – even before it is built. As the New York Times reported (July 22nd), "This week, as Jews around the world observed the fasting day of Tisha B'av, commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Jewish Temples in ancient Jerusalem, a Brazilian megachurch received planning permission to build a 10,000-seat replica of Solomon’s Temple in the city of São Paulo."
"If the nations of the world would have only known what blessings the Holy Temple brings to them," states the Midrash, "they would not have destroyed it... they would have protected it so that it would never be destroyed." But alas, as the old saying goes, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Today, the nations of the world have delegitimized Israel's connection to Jerusalem, so the next logical step would be... to delegitimize the significance of Jerusalem altogether. But the essence of Jerusalem is the presence of G-d, and that’s not something that can simply be usurped and transplanted elsewhere. You can’t copycat the Shechina glory of G-d. But it’s an oft-repeated historical theme… ever since Israel’s inception as a people, the nations, declaring their contempt for the G-d of Israel, have unabashedly taken the G-d-given blessings the Jews have bequeathed the world, and then proceed to morph these blessings into whatever suits their own self-serving agenda and purpose.
Click here to view the Temple Institute’s video response to Brazil’s Universal Church of the Kingdom of God’s plans to build a $200 million mockery of the Holy Temple – a monument to megalomania which stands in diametric opposition to everything that the Holy Temple of Jerusalem stands for – in São Paulo, Brazil.

The Patient KingToday also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "The Patient King: G-d gives us life, and animates our very souls, and yet, when we rebel against Him by straying from the path and the harmony that He has set out for the entire world, He, in His long-suffering patience, bears our affront and continues to bless us with His great benevolence. It is incumbent upon each of us to emulate this G-dly attribute, and show great patience and forbearance toward others." Click here to view.

Parashat HashavuaG-d commands us not to be overwhelmed by our own mortality; not to diminish our physical selves in the realization of our own finiteness, but to find strength and comfort in His eternal embrace: "You are children of the L-rd, your G-d." (Deut. 14:1) Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17).

Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
  Yitzchak Reuven
  The Temple Institute

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