Thursday, May 17, 2018

Who Will Build the Third Temple: Man or God ?

From the talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

Art: Alex Levin

A Building of the Heavens or of the Earth 

There is a classic difference of opinion between our Rabbis regarding the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash. The Rambam states [1] that the Beis HaMikdash will be built by man, more specifically by Mashiach. Indeed, its construction will be one of the signs of Mashiach’s advent.

Rashi, [2] by contrast, explains that the Beis HaMikdash has al­ready been constructed by G‑d and exists in the Heavenly realms, waiting for the time when it will descend to the earth. For the Third Beis HaMikdash will be “the Sanctuary of G‑d, established by Your hands.” [3] When the setting within the world is appropriate, this Heavenly structure will descend and become an actual reality within our material world.

Each of these views is based upon sources in the works of our Sages. [4] There is, however, a unique historical point which supports the Rambam’s position. Our Sages relate [5] that in the era of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananiah, the Romans granted the Jews permission to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash. Joyous at the opportunity they were granted, our people rushed to begin the preparations for building only to have the project thwarted by the intervention of the Samaritans. What is significant, however, is that they planned to build the Beis HaMikdash through their own efforts; they did not wait for it to descend from the heavens.

Will We Be Worthy?

This account can, however, be reconciled with Rashi’s view. To explain: Our Sages [6] note the apparent contradiction between two verses describing the coming of Mashiach. One verse states:[7] “Behold, one like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven.” It is, however, also written: [8] “Your king will come... like a poor man riding on a donkey.” In resolution, our Sages explain that if the Jews are found worthy, Mashiach will come “on the clouds of heaven”; if they do not merit, he will come “like a poor man riding on a donkey.” Similarly, in other contexts, our Sages de­scribe one course for the Redemption if the Jews’ conduct is meritorious, and another, if, heaven forbid, such merits are lacking. [9]

In the present context as well, it can be explained that the ultimate conception of the Beis HaMikdash is a Heavenly struc­ture to descend from above. If, however, the Jews are not wor­thy of such a sanctuary, the Beis HaMikdash will still return in the Era of the Redemption. It will, however, be a structure built by man, and not by G‑d.

On this basis, we can also resolve the difficulty cited above. When the Romans granted the Jews the opportunity to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash, the people must have been somewhat dis­appointed that the Beis HaMikdash did not descend from heaven. Nevertheless, the realization that they had not been found worthy of a heavenly structure did not dampen their en­thusiasm for building a sanctuary to the fullest extent of their human potential. [10]

Concrete Elucidation of Yechezkel’s Prophecies

Another possible resolution can be offered based on the Rambam’s statements shortly after the beginning of Hilchos Beis HaBechirah: [11]

The structure which Shlomo built is already described in the [Book of] Melachim. Similarly, the structure which will be constructed in the future era [is described in the Book of] Yechezkel. Nevertheless, the description there is not explained or elucidated.

[Therefore,] the people who constructed the Second [Beis HaMikdash] in the time of Ezra, built it according to the [basic] design [employed by] Shlomo, incorporat­ing the elements which were explicitly detailed by Yechezkel.

It can be explained that Mashiach will lead the people in the construction of those dimensions of the Beis HaMikdash which can be grasped by human intellect. Afterwards, since the dimensions of Yechezkel’s prophecies which we cannot com­pre­hend will be left incomplete, they will be revealed from Heaven by G‑d.

When That Which is Hidden Will Emerge

Another approach to rec­oncile Rashi’s view and that of the Rambam is based on our Sages’ interpretation of the verse, “Her gates sank in the earth.” [12] Our Sages relate [13] that the gates of the Beis HaMikdash were fashioned at the order of King David. This endowed them with an eternal invulnerability. [14] When the Babylonians laid waste to the Beis HaMikdash, the gates were not destroyed. In­stead, they were swallowed by the earth.

In the Era of the Redemption, the entire Beis HaMikdash will descend from the heavens with the exception of the gates, which will ascend from the earth. Mashiach will then connect the gates to the Beis HaMikdash. Our Sages explain [15] that con­necting the gates to a building is considered as equivalent to the construction of the entire edifice.

Adding Divine Perfection to Human Effort

Moreover, it can be ex­plained that the two concep­tions are, in no way, contradic­tory. Building the Beis HaMik­dash is a mitzvah incumbent on the Jewish people. [16] In the Era of the Redemption, when it will become possible to fulfill all the mitz­vos, we will also be obli­gated to rebuild the Beis HaMik­dash. Within that structure which man will erect, however, will descend and be enclothed “the Sanctuary of G‑d,” which is waiting in the heavens.

Mankind is obligated to create a Sanctuary for G‑d within the context of our material world. After that is completed to the fullest extent of our human potential, the inner essence of the Beis HaMikdash will be revealed — that it is “the Sanctuary of G‑d,” possessing a dimension of perfection which utterly sur­passes any possible work of mortal man.

* * *

May we witness the actual resolution of this issue in the immediate future, with the coming of the Redemption and the rebuilding — or the descent — of the Beis HaMikdash. “And then, the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to G‑d, as in the days of old and as in bygone years.”[17]

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, Vol. XI, p. 98; XVIII, p. 418-419; Vol. XXVII, p. 205.

1. Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 11:1,4.
2. Sukkah 41a, Rosh HaShanah 30a. See also Tosafos, Sukkah, loc. cit.
3. Shmos 15:17.
4. The Rambam’s view appears based on the Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 1:11, Pesachim 9:1, Vayikra Rabbah 9:6, and Bamidbar Rabbah, 13:2. Rashi’s view has its source in the Midrash Tanchuma, Pekudei, sec. 11, the Zohar I, 28a, and other texts.
5. Bereishis Rabbah 64:10.
6. Sanhedrin 98a.
7. Daniel 7:13.
8. Zechariah 9:9.
9. See the essay “Two Periods Within the Era of the Redemption,” in the text I Await His Coming, which discusses this issue at length.
10. Significantly, in the era of Rabbi Yehoshua, there was no particular individual dis­tinguished as Mashiach. Nevertheless, the people planned to build the Beis HaMikdash. It was only in a later generation that it was revealed that it would be Mashiach who would build the Third Beis HaMikdash.
11. Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 1:4. See the essay “How We Can Build the Beis HaMikdash” which elaborates on this concept.
12. Eichah 2:9.
13. Bamidbar Rabbah 15:13, Eichah Rabbah on the verse cited.
14. Sotah 9a.
15. See Bava Basra 53b; see also Shaarei Zohar to Sukkah 41a.
16. Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 1:1. See also the conclusion of the discussion of the positive mitzvos in Sefer HaMitzvos, which states that building the Beis HaMikdash is an obligation incumbent on the Jewish people as a communal entity.
17. Malachi 3:4.

Original Article:


JAH said...

“Behold, one like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven.”

What about the "like" part? One like a son of man. Not a son of man?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that beautiful post.
It makes sense that the Beit HaMikdash will descend from Heaven, because it will be eternal and can never be destroyed. The first two (the second being nearly not as holy as the first built by Shlomo HaMelech) were destroyed because they were not invulnerable.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

I believe that the Temple Institute is correct, that the Third Temple will be built by us. We will get the Gold for the Third Temple and its implements from the River Pishon River Valley (Mid-Mississippi River and the Lower Ohio River). The Gold that is good from Chapter 2 of Genesis will come from Fort Knox overlooking the Lower Ohio River, and G-d willing President Trump will be the one who gifts it to us when the time comes.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

Of course, it is very possible that the Temple building and its walled courtyards might descend from Heaven, but the Keilim such as the Menorot and the Shulkhanot holding the lechem HaPanim which are made of either pure Gold in the case of the Menorot or Gold over Shittim wood in the case of the Shulchanot, will be made of Gold donated from Fort Knox. The Gold though will surely come from the River Pishon, for if it did not, why would we learn about this in the 2nd Chapter of Bereishit? The Torah only tells us about physical things that serve a spiritual purpose, and the gold and the Black Onyx from the River Pishon have yet to fulfill their spiritual purpose.

Anonymous said...

Read "The Third Beis HaMikdosh":

Devorah said...

I saw a video of Rabbi Chaim Richman from the Temple Institute and in that video he was making a mockery of the fact that the Temple would descend from Shamayim and that is was ridiculous to think so. For that reason alone, I find it hard to agree that the Temple Institute is correct.

Dov Bar-Leib said...

Devorah: I am really sorry to hear about that. Eilu veEilu Hem Divrei Elokim Chaim. Both sides likely have valid points. I should point out that Rabbi Richman's videos on offering the Qorban Pesach even before the Temple is rebuilt are actually very good.

Chosid said...

In this Sicha, the Rebbe, not only a Gaon Adir but also the Nasi and a Navi, makes the case according to ALL opinions on why The Beis Hamikdash will come from Heaven - and how we reconcile the point that Mohsiach builds it as well.

A few more points are also included in this opinion, namely: if it descends from heaven, it is actually the collective effort as every Jews, as we were taught as kids that every mitzvah we do is a brick in the Beis Hamikdash in Heaven that will come down when Moshiach comes. Additionally, the fact that Hashem alone creates it, assures us that it will never be destroyed as we know that something Hashem makes will last forever, unlike previous 2 Batei Mikdashos.

Miriam said...

Both are true. I learned there will be a Beit Hamikdash on the ground with another one directly above it linking it to shamayim. We will be able to see the bottom one touching the top one. In one vision, Hashem's "feet" when sitting on His throne will rest on a footstool in our Beit Hamikdash. We will be able to see a divine part of Him in a way we can grasp in the holiest place of the world. It will be the first aspect which helps us to understand how the spiritual world is directly adjacent to ours before we start the process of combining them starting in the age of moshiach and into the world to come.

Again, after moshiach arrives we will see how all of our tzaddikim's views, even contradictory ones, are all true together. Somehow, it will all make sense and will be explained to us. No need to get upset when you hear/read something which goes against what you learned. Soon, we will understand it all!

Anonymous said...

Like Chosid said e Rebbe explains all options and reconciles all opinions.

There is a strong emphasis that during the first period of of Mashiach nature will operate and therefore man will build the Temple.

In the second latter period the resurrection will take place and the miraculous will be the state of affairs. Therefore the unknown and miraculous and heavenly dimension of the Temple will fuse. We will elevate nature to rise to the miracles.

Rabbi Richmond was only emphasizing what the Rambam and Chassidic thought teaches about mitzvot that are to be performed within nature. Therefore you should not feel bad that he denigrated 'waiting for the miracle' since that is not how the Torah usually operates since we do not rely on miracles. (Except when miracles become the natural state of affairs like mentioned above).

These teachings from the Rebbe explain many concepts that are parallel to how redemption operates and when examine them carefully one can understand many secrets of the present history of Global and individual redemption..