And they shall make Me a sanctuary so that I will dwell among them. According to all that I show you, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its vessels, and so you shall do.(From this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, Exodus 25:8-9)
“The Temple somehow connects to my soul in an unbelievable way. It is something that I do not understand, but it is my Jewish essence that is connected to it. I don’t know, I don’t think about it. I simply want and anticipate and hope that I will also participate, with G-d’s help, in the building of the Temple.” (Manhigut Yehudit supporter, Emmanuel Gertel, in the film “Awakenings“. Gertel is not an “Orthodox” Jew.)
“Yes, it has to be budgeted and it must be done. What is the problem? When I go to the Kotel with my son, I explain to him that it is like being outside, in the parking lot.” (Manhigut Yehudit supporter Uri Noi, answering the question: Do you support the building of the Third Temple now? In an interview (Hebrew) on Israeli television. Noi is not an “Orthodox” Jew.)
What is the pull of the Temple? What are they connecting to? It is not only the ‘crazy’ seculars of Manhigut Yehudit who are connected to the Temple. Herzl also spoke about the Temple, as did Yair Stern, who insisted on making the building of the Temple part of his 13 principles, despite the fact that he knew that it would distance many of his fighters. Why do we need such a primitive and bizarre thing in our modern times?
For Emmanuel, the Temple Mount plucks on heartstrings so deep that he cannot even describe them. Uri the intellectual reaches the same point through the dimension of national pride; we also need a Buckingham Palace we can call our own; the Prime Minister’s residence simply does not fit the bill.
Both of them are right. But as someone who for years has been going up to the Temple Mount and trying to understand why it mesmerizes the world, I would like to add another dimension.
From the day that the Temple was destroyed, our Sages explain, the taste of life was taken from us and given to the idol worshippers. In other words, since the Temple was destroyed, we really don’t have much of a life. We are like zombies, walking shadows, not people who are really alive. We can choose between living a life of recluse, sequestering ourselves from the world and its temptations; the Christian method, or we can choose the Moslem, animal method of living a life of physical lust. But to synthesize between the physical and spiritual, between body and soul; to create a life of harmony between the two, is not possible without the Temple. The flavor of life has been lost.
How is the Temple connected to all of this?
The Temple on the Temple Mount is a physical point that can be located on a map. It is the place chosen by the Creator to manifest His Divine Presence and from which to spread it across the entire earth. In other words, the Temple is the connection point between the physical and the meta-physical. It is like the human brain that while it has grey matter, it is also the seat of thoughts and emotions. The Temple is the brain of the universe. It is the place where the physical and meta-physical meet and create life. When the Temple was destroyed, it was as if our brain was taken and replaced by a robot; not really life at all. A robot cannot enjoy life; its flavor is irrelevant to it.
Longing for the Temple is longing for life, for the renewed connection between body and soul in both the individual and universal dimensions. Humanity, in its entirety, anticipates the fountain of life that will burst forth from Jerusalem. Ultimately, it will force it upon us. In the meantime, the world is angry at us for not supplying the merchandise; and rightfully so.