Saturday, February 5, 2011

Make me a Sanctuary

"And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst"

(Exodus 25:8)
Shvat 30, 5771/February 4, 2011
Rosh Chodesh Adar

The importance of these words, their centrality to man's existence, and the impact which they have had, should have and must have upon Israel and the nations, is impossible to overstate. In terms of cosmic, cataclysmic, earth-shaking Biblical verses, it can be said that this one is right up there with, "In the beginning... " Why? What makes this commandment different from the other 612 Torah commandments received at Sinai?
For sure, every commandment, from those which appear the easiest to perform, or the most peripheral to our lives, to those which seem the weightiest, are of equal significance, and the performance of every commandment merits heavenly reward. It is what lies behind the commandment "build Me a sanctuary," what these words teach us about our world and about G-d's relationship to Israel and what He expects of man, the crowning glory of His creation, which makes this commandment so unique. "Build Me a sanctuary" implies, by the very nature of its intention, so sublime and yet so humble, the potential G-d sees in man, and the heights and perfection to which man can bring G-d's world.
G-d created the world in six days and then left off from creating. The world was complete. Or was it? In truth, G-d brought creation to a close with the creation of man. But what is man, with his free will, infused by G-d within his very being from his first breath of life, who rises and stumbles, who draws near to G-d one moment, and distant the next? Is man complete? And if not, then is creation truly complete?
From the moment that G-d created man, He was seeking a relationship, a partnership with man. This is the reason that G-d created man. G-d determined that "'It is not good that man should be alone,'" (Genesis 2:18) and created for man a helpmate. But it was also not good for G-d to be alone. Nor was it ever G-d's intention. G-d has always sought a partner, a friend, in man. Avraham became that friend to G-d, (Isaiah 41:8), and a father of many nations. And it was Avraham's progeny, the children of Israel, whom G-d took out of Egypt, gave to them Torah, and now requests, (if a commandment can be also be a request), but one thing: build for Me a house, let Me into your world. Be My friend, and together we can complete and perfect creation in the only way possible to do so: together, as one.
When Moshe first heard this commandment, Midrash tells us, he was incredulous. "How," he said, "Can we possibly build for You a house that you will dwell within, when the very heavens themselves cannot contain your infinite nature?" In other words, Moshe was saying, "Impossible!"
"On the contrary," G-d replied, "All it requires is twenty beams on the north side, and twenty beams on the south side, and eight beams on the west side, and I will come down and abide My glory amongst them." In other words, "Possible! Absolutely, totally, undeniably and exhilaratingly possible!"
G-d, in His response, made reference, of course, to the Tabernacle structure, as a way of illustrating how profoundly simple this task is to perform. In truth, it has nothing to do with wooden beams, or marble blocks, or animal skins, or silver or gold, but with the joining of our will, of our desires, to G-d's will. Of taking that free will that G-d blessed us with from the first, and placing this most precious gift of all in the place where it has always belonged: In G-d's treasure house - His Holy Temple.
What a delusion, what a madness it is to think that we Israel are not capable of, are not quite ready or worthy of the great task, the most profound and sublime Divine challenge of man - " to make [for G-d] a sanctuary that [He] will dwell in [our] midst!" Who created man, after all, and for what purpose, if not for this - to complete G-d's creation by bringing Him into our midst!
Temple TalkTune in to this week's Temple Talk as Yitzchak Reuven welcomes Rabbi Chaim Richman back to Israel and back to the studio. Just returned from his never ending journey throughout the great United States, and stranded for four days in the snows of New Jersey, Rabbi Richman shares his experiences and reflects upon the "Temple Conundrum:" Who is the Holy Temple for, anyway? So many people think it is either problematic, archaic, dangerous, or inconvenient. But those opinions are.... well, just that: opinions! Whatever happened to doing something for G-d? Remember Him? As Rashi so eloquently states: "For My Name's sake..." Of course we are referring to this week's Torah reading, parashat Terumah, the raison d'etre for everything that we do at the Temple Institute. "And you shall make for Me a Sanctuary" is G-d's desire... that we let Him in to this world. Breathtakingly simple!
Blueprints for The Holy TempleNow Presenting the Greatest Progress Toward the Rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Modern History: Blueprints for The Holy Temple: In his recent USA speaking engagement tour, (January 2011), Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute revealed to the public for the very first time detailed construction plans for the Chamber of Hewn Stone: the seat of the Great Sanhedrin which is a central component of the Holy Temple complex on the Temple Mount. These complete and highly intricate plans constitute the first stage of an historical undertaking of the Temple Institute: the drafting of blueprints for the entire Holy Temple complex. To view the blueprints, please click here.
Computer-generated Walk-throughView this short video and experience a virtual computer-generated walk-through of the Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone, based on the newly drawn up blueprints. Click here.
Parashat Terumah"From every person whose heart inspires him to generosity" Parashat Terumah, the Torah reading of Exodus 25:1-27:19, encapsulates the essence and the purpose of the Temple Institute. To learn why this parashah is so intrinsic to the work of the Temple Institute, please click here.
Governor Mike Huckabee and Rabbi Chaim RichmanGovernor Mike Huckabee and Rabbi Chaim Richman discuss Israel, Jerusalem and the Holy Temple: Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas, and likely presidential hopeful in 2012, has spent the past few days in Israel. On Thursday evening, February 3rd, (Rosh Chodesh Adar), the Temple Institute's Rabbi Chaim Richman was a guest of Governor Huckabee at the David's Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem. To learn more, please click here.
10 Commandments: The Inside StoryThis week features the Bat Melech video teaching with Rabbanit Rena Richman, entitled, "10 Commandments: The Inside Story: We are all familiar with the ten commandments, but most likely not fully aware of the depth and breadth of the spiritual message embodied in each of the ten life-instructions which are contained on the two Tablets of the Law." (This teaching was initially posted in May 2010. Rena will soon be recording new teachings.) Click here to view.
The Holy Temple ConundrumThis week also features the Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Building the Holy Temple, Part VII: The Holy Temple Conundrum: Midrashic and kabbalistic literature abounds in which the Holy Temple is described in spiritual terms. These homelitical teachings do not contradict or override the Torah imperative for building a physical Holy Temple." (This teaching was initially posted in December 2009. Rabbi Richman will soon be recording new teachings.) Click here to view.
Parashat Hashavua"They shall make an ark of acacia wood" (Exodus 25:10) Aron HaBrit - The Ark of the Covenant - performs no function in the Divine service, and is approached but once a year when the Kohen Gadol - the High Priest - enters the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement. It is the one Temple vessel that actually serves as a permanent receptacle - holding the Tablets of the Law. Yet of all the vessels described in the Torah reading of Terumah, the Ark of the Covenant remains the most compelling to the imagination. From the Ark emanates the supernal light of Torah and a reflection in this world of the perfected world and the pure light of the Garden of Eden. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19).
Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
  Yitzchak Reuven
  The Temple Institute
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