This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Terumah (5762)
This week we learn that there is a commandment to build a "Mikdash"; a holy house for G-d.
It begins here as the "Mishkan" (Tabernacle); a portable structure of wood and curtains in the desert. But its real goal was to be (480 years later) a permanent "Holy Temple" in Jerusalem.
This idea of a Temple is not so unique; other religions also have their versions. But one interesting thing about our Temple, is that even today, almost 2,000 years after it was destroyed, we still pray toward the place where it used to stand!
At first glance this does not seem like a very Jewish thing to do. Aren't we praying to G-d? Isn't G-d found everywhere? Isn't G-d spiritual? Why are we praying to a PLACE? Maybe when the Temple stood it had some psychological effect, but why pray to it now?
To answer this here is a story.
Reb Yisroel was exhausted as he walked along the moonlit road. For several days he hadn't really slept. He was a Chassid, a follower of the ideas of the Baal Shem Tov, who believed that we must connect every Jew with G-d and His Torah. But there seemed to be no end to the troubles of the Jewish people, and so little time to solve them. Sickness, poverty, and anti-Semitism loomed over their heads like an ugly black cloud. Pessimism and depression were pushing tens of thousands of souls away from Judaism into the beckoning arms of Bundism, Zionism, Communism, Reformism, intellectualism, and even to outright conversion. Trying to restore optimism and joy was a very difficult and tiring job, but that is what the Baal Shem Tov said was the only solution.
It was cold, and the moonlight didn't warm up the forest. He longed to just lie down for an hour or so. If only....then suddenly in the distance he saw the inn he had been told about.
In minutes he was inside warming up by the stove. He paid for the night in advance, and after saying his evening prayers he found his room, went in, and laid down to rest. His body was aching from fatigue.
But he couldn't sleep. The ticking of the clock on the wall was unusually loud. Suddenly he became filled with an uncontrollable joy. He couldn't explain it, but he felt that in any second the Moshiach would arrive to redeem the Jewish people!
He stood and began humming and quietly clapping his hands, moving his feet to the rhythm of the clock until he was dancing and singing like a madman. When he was out of breath and couldn't dance any more, he took out a tractate of the Talmud from his pouch, sat down and joyously learned aloud until the morning. Rather than being fatigued he was filled with new life and optimism.
He put on his Tefillin, prayed the Morning Prayer, packed his things, took his bag and left the room to continue his journey. As he walked past the front desk on the way out he turned and saw the owner of the inn.
"Tell me," he asked the owner, "That clock that is in my room, where did you get it? Do you remember? Can you describe the person that you got it from?"
"Ahhh! You like that clock, do you?" answered the owner, "I like it too. It's a sort of happy clock isn't it? When I hear it, it makes me think of good things. Where did I get it? In fact I got it from someone that looked a bit like you. He got stuck here for a few days because of a snowstorm, and didn't have enough money to pay the bill, so he gave me that clock instead. I think I remember how he looked." From the description, it was obvious that it was none other than the Holy "Chozeh" (Rabbi Yakov Yitzchak) of Lublin.
Later Reb Yisroel said that with every tick, he heard the clock announce that the Moshiach was one second closer, and it filled him with immeasurable joy.
This answers our question. The purpose of Judaism is to imbue this physical world with "holiness". In fact, ONLY in THIS WORLD can there be true holiness. That is why the Torah was given here in this physical world, and why the Torah deals entirely with physical things (Even the "spiritual" commandments of Loving G-d or believing in Him must be felt in the physical heart and brain) in order to transform this world of "lies" to a world of Truth.
The prototype of this was the Holy Temple; a physical building that revealed G-d. The holy Temple showed the Jews what it is possible for EACH of them to do, namely to make the PHYSICAL ETERNAL.
So that is why we pray to the place where the Temple was. Because just as the clock in our story retained it's holiness even AFTER it left the Tzaddik, so also the land where the Temple stood will always be holy even after the Temple is gone.
But really EVERY Jew is a Holy Temple. As G-d tells Moshe in the beginning of the section (25:8) "Make me a Mikdosh and I will dwell in THEM". In other words, G-d will dwell not only in IT (the Temple) but in THEM i.e. in EACH and every Jew (and the non-Jews that accept the seven Noahide commandments) as well.
This also explains the "Raising of the Dead". Then we will see that every commandment that we did really had an ETERNAL effect on our PHYSICAL bodies and our bodies will exist for ever.
In fact, there are opinions that say, that because Moshiach will be the one to change the world and eventually bring the Ressurection, he himself will be eternal (Avodat Ha Kodesh by Mair n'Gabai 2:19). And that is why one of his first goals will be to build the Third Temple which will stand eternally.
But believe it or not, it all depends on each and every one of us. Even one thought, one word or one good deed done in JOY can tip the scales to bring...
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