Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Temples on Earth and in Heaven

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

Rashi writes on the pasuk, "The Temple, my Lord, that Your hands established" (Shemot 15:17):

The Temple is cherished, since the world was created with one hand, as it says: "Also My Hand has laid the foundation of the earth" (Yeshaya 48:13), while the Temple with two hands. When will it be built with two hands? When "Hashem shall reign for all eternity" (Shemot 15:18) – in the future, when all the kingdoms are His.

Rashi is not very clear, though, about whose two hands will build the Temple in the future? However, it is evident that he is referring to the Gemara in Ketubot 5a:

Bar Kapara taught: The deeds of the righteous are greater than the making of heaven and earth. For with the making of heaven and earth it says: "Also my hand has laid the foundation of the earth," while with the deeds if the righteous it says: "The foundation of Your dwelling place that You, Hashem have made – the Temple, my L-rd, that Your hands established."

Rashi writes there: "The Temple – is a construction of the righteous." However this stands in contrast to what Rashi and Tosfot write in Succah 41a that the future Temple will be built by G-d. They learn this from the pasuk: "The Temple, my Lord, that Your hands established."

There are many who resolve this difficulty by explaining that we will first build the Temple, and then a Temple will descend from above and unite with the lower Temple.

This is a major tenet in Jewish thought. It is against those who think that nothing should be done regarding the redemption of Am Yisrael, because when the time comes Hashem will act of his own initiative. Therefore, we should mention the opinions of some of the great commentators on the subject:

§ On the pasuk, "You, Shlomo can have your thousand" (Shir Hashirim 8:12), the Ramban writes: "The beginning of the future redemption will be through the permission of the kingdoms and there will be a small ingathering, and then Hashem will add His Hand once again."

§ The Radak similarly writes in Tehillim (146:3): " The salvation is dependent on Hashem alone, but He will bring it about through people, the way he brought the salvation of the Babylonian exile through Koresh. Similarly, in the future, Hashem will bring about the redemption of Am Yisrael through the gentile kings, by stirring their spirit to send them [free]."

§ Rabeinu Bechayei also writes in Parshat Shemini (Vayikra 11:4-7): "Why is this kingdom (Edom) compared to a pig? ... Yet, the Third Temple is destined to be built by this nation. This is what Chazal say, that [Edom] is destined to restore the glory to what it was – because it destroyed it."

§ Earlier, Rav Sa'adia Gaon writes in his book "Emunot V'Deiot" (8:5), that the Temple will be built initially with the permission of the kings of Edom, and this will serve as preparation for the Temple above.

The Shalah Hakadosh writes the reason for this in Parshat Tetzaveh:

Hashem's devotion to us and ours to Him is well-known. We cause the great devotion that He has towards us through the strength of human initiative, and then a great bounty initiates from above. This explains what Rashi writes on the pasuk, "To bring you to the place that I have made ready." (Shemot 23:20): "My place is already known corresponding to [the Temple]. This is one of the verses that say that the Temple above corresponds to the Temple below."

This phraseology is difficult, though, as the lesser Temple should have been tied to the greater one! Rashi should have written: "The Temple below corresponds to the Temple above." Furthermore, Rashi writes: "My place is already known," i.e., the Temple above was built first.

However, as was previously stated, the Temple above is waiting for the Temple below to be built by man. When there will be anticipation and initiative from below, then the Temple above will descend. Chazal hint to this in their statement: "Even though fire descends from heaven, it is [still] a mitzvah to bring from the layman." (Yoma 21b)

This is how R. Shlomo Kluger explains the words of the prayer on the holidays: "Build Your House as at first, and establish Your Temple on its basis. Show us its building, and make us happy with its repair." This appears redundant. Also, what does: "as at first" mean, since it will not be like it was in the beginning? Rather, first it will be built by our hands below, and only then by fire. Thus, we ask: "Build Your House as at first " – by men, and then: "establish Your Temple on its basis" – by Hashem. In the meantime, Chazal write that Hashem is crying over the destruction of the Temple, but does nothing until there is an initiative from below.

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