Parsha Pearls: Parshas Terumah

I Am the Real King Solomon!
Building the Temple Without Moshiach
Heretics Destroy the Temple

And they shall make Me a Sanctuary, and I shall dwell in their midst.” (25:8)

The Midrash in Parshas Toldos tells the following story: In the days of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya, the evil kingdom (Rome) decreed that the Beis Hamikdash be built. Papos and Lulianos set up tables from Acco to Antioch and they supplied the Jews coming up from exile with gold, silver and all their needs. The Cuthites went and said, “Be it known to the king that if this rebellious city is built and its walls completed, they will not pay the king land tax, head tax or other taxes.” He said to them, “What can I do? I already decreed.” They said to him, “Send a message to the Jews that they must either build the city in a different place, or they must add five cubits or take away five cubits from it. Then they will stop on their own.” The Jews were gathered at that time in the valley of Beis Rimon. When the letter with the king’s new decree arrived, they began to cry. They wanted to rebel against the government. They said, “Let a wise man go and appease the multitude. Let Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya go, for he is a master scholar of Torah.” He went and spoke to them as follows: “Once a lion was eating and a bone got stuck in his throat. He said, ‘Whoever comes and gets it out, I will give him a reward.’ An Egyptian kura-bird with a long neck came, stuck his neck in and took it out. He said, ‘Give me my reward.’ The lion said, ‘Go boast that you entered the lion’s mouth in peace and came out in peace.’ So too, it is enough for us that we entered our exile under this nation in peace and came out in peace.” (Bereishis Rabbah 64:10)

The Satmar Rav asked: Why does it say that the evil kingdom “decreed” that the Beis Hamikdash be built? “Decree” usually means something bad. He answered this with another story, from Midrash Eicha 1:31:

When Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai met Vespasian outside the walls of Jerusalem, Pangar the prince of Arabia was also present. They asked Rabbi Yochanan, “What should be done with a barrel in which a snake took up residence?” Rabbi Yochanan understood that this was a metaphor for the Holy City, in which the militant factions of Jews were living and preventing any Jew from making peace with Rome. He replied, “Bring a snake charmer and charm the snake out and keep the barrel.” But Pangar said, “Kill the snake and break the barrel.” Rabbi Yochanan said to Pangar: “You are a bad neighbor! Instead of being our defender, you have become our prosecutor!” Pangar said, “I mean it for your own good. For as long as the Beis Hamikdash is standing, kings will fight wars against you.” Rabbi Yochanan said, “Your heart knows whether you intended for good or for bad.”

Rabbi Yochanan did not say that Pangar was wrong, only that his intentions were bad. The Beis Hamikdash was a cause for great jealousy among the gentile nations, and it was only Hashem’s protection that made the Jewish people safe during the time it stood. But now, when the time of its destruction had arrived and Hashem no longer guaranteed this special protection, it would be not be good for them to have the Beis Hamikdash. All the more so that it should not be built during exile! Therefore, the later Roman decision to build the Beis Hamikdash was called a “decree”. (Vayoel Moshe 1:60)

The Midrash Lekach Tov brings this same story about the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash in relation to the verse in Shir Hashirim 8:4, “I have adjured you, daughters of Jerusalem: why do you arouse and why do you awake the love before it is desired?” Why, asks the Lekach Tov, is the wording of this oath different from the first two (2:7 and 3:5)? In the first two, it says, “I have adjured you not to arouse” and here it says “why do you arouse”. The answer is that the third oath refers to time when the Romans gave permission to build the Temple and then revoked it, and the Jews wanted to rebel. Rabbi Yehoshua said to them, “Is it not enough that Hashem lets us live among the nations? Are we to rebel against our Creator’s command, to wait until redemption is desired in Heaven?”

And the Temple was built of complete stones, as they came; no chisel, ax or other iron tool was heard in the Temple as it was being built. (Melachim I 6:7)

The Gemora (Gittin 68a) says that Shlomo Hamelech used the shamir to cut the stones for the Temple. The Gemora relates how he captured Ashmedai, king of the demons, and asked him where to find the shamir. Later, Ashmedai threw Shlomo out of his kingdom and then, taking on the appearance of Shlomo Hamelech, acted as king himself. Meanwhile, the true Shlomo Hamelech was going from door to door with his walking stick and telling everyone that he was the true king. All the Jews thought he was insane, for they saw Shlomo Hamelech sitting on his throne and the kingdom running as usual. But then he came to the Sanhedrin, who said, "We know that an insane person does not just do one insane thing." And this led them to investigate and discover that the "Shlomo Hamelech" sitting on the throne was an impostor.

Reb Amram Blau wrote in 1948: Today we find ourselves in the same situation as Shlomo Hamelech. Ashmedai did not merely conquer Shlomo Hamelech and usurp his throne, as one king conquers another. He stole Shlomo's name as well, and proceeded to run the kingdom in the name of Shlomo, thus denying the identity of the true Shlomo. And Shlomo, the true wise man, appeared to be insane. He cried out, "I am Shlomo!" but no one listened. Today as well, the Zionists have stolen our name, "Israel," and they pretend to represent the Jewish people in the world, thus denying the identity of the true Israel, the people of Hashem, the people of the Torah. And our situation is worse than that of Shlomo, for at least Ashmedai, it seems, ruled the kingdom in the same way Shlomo ruled it. But the Zionists are using our name for a purpose that is the opposite of our national purpose - to deny the Torah and rebel against Hashem's decree of exile. And the Jewish people cries out to the world, who help this terrible forgery to exist - but no one listens.

But we must derive an important lesson from the story of Shlomo Hamelech. Shlomo never gave up even for a minute his claim, "I am Shlomo!" It was a claim that made everyone think he was insane, it was a claim that seemed futile. He could easily have decided to make peace with the facts and recognize, at least temporarily, the kingship of Ashmedai in the name of Shlomo. He could have stopped claiming to be Shlomo, and the world would no longer have called him insane. And in his wisdom, he could definitely have attained an important post in the government, to salvage whatever could be salvaged of his power. This might have appeared to be the best strategy. But had he done this, all hope would have been lost! For we see in the story that the way he eventually got his kingdom back was through his claim, "I am Shlomo," and through the wisdom of the Sanhedrin, who knew that an insane person does not just do one insane thing. Rashi explains, "He does not stick to saying one insane thing all the time." Had Shlomo abandoned his claim, even temporarily, this line of reason would have been gone, and even the Sanhedrin would have agreed that his claim had been no more than a sign of insanity. (Mishkenos Haro’im, p. 910)

And they shall make Me a sanctuary." (25:8)

The Rambam in Hilchos Beis Habechirah 1:1 states that it is a positive commandment to make a house for Hashem where sacrifices can be offered and the Jewish people can ascend three times a year. In his Hilchos Melachim 11:1 he writes specifically that regarding the future Temple, this mitzvah is the exclusive domain of moshiach: "The king moshiach will arise and restore the dynasty of David to its former state, build the Temple and gather in the exiles of Israel."

However, in Bava Kama 60b we read: "He that lighted the fire shall surely pay. Said the Holy One, blessed is He: I burned a fire in Zion and I will build it in fire, as it says (Zechariah 2:9), 'And I will be for it a wall of fire all around, and for honor I will be within it." A similar statement appears in the prayer "Nachem", recited on Tisha B'av afternoon, "For You, Hashem, lit it on fire, and You will one day build it in fire." If these early sources say that G-d Himself will build the future Temple, then how can the Rambam say that moshiach will build it?

The Aruch Laner (Succah 41a) answers that first the Temple will be built by moshiach, and afterwards a Heavenly Temple will descend into the humanly built Temple, just as a spiritual soul enters a physical body. In a similar way, we find that in the Tabernacle and the First Temple a fire came down from Heaven and joined the fire lit on the altar by the kohanim.

In any case, the claims of the Zionist group calling themselves the "Temple Institute" that according to the Rambam we must build the Temple ourselves, are false. The Rambam says clearly that moshiach will be the one to build it. This was also proven by Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller in his commentary Tosafos Yom Tov on the fifth chapter of Yuma. He writes that since the passage in the Book of Yechezkel describing the exact dimensions of the future Temple is unclear in many places, and our Sages have not transmitted to us any explanation of these verses, we must wait for Eliyahu Hanavi to come with moshiach and clear up all doubts. This, he writes, is what the Rambam means in his Hilchos Beis Hebechirah 1:4 when he says that the dimensions of the Third Temple are written in Yechezkel but are not clear.

The Maharam Chagiz in his work Eileh Masei, page 19, tells the story of a time when the Western Wall was covered with garbage, placed there by order of the Romans (i.e. the Christians), who wanted to obliterate all memory of the Temple. A benevolent king (Selim, the father of Suleiman the Magnificent, the first Ottoman king who conquered Jerusalem) arose later and spent much money on clearing away the garbage until the Western Wall became visible, as it is today. He greatly honored the site of the Temple, and then he called to the Jews and said, "Behold, G-d has brought about the restoration of your Temple. Its foundations are visible – go and build it, and I will pay all your expenses." The Jews were brokenhearted and they all began to cry. The king asked, "Why are you crying? You should be happy, for G-d has sent me to rebuild your Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans. And if you are worried about the cost, I have already said that I will pay all your expenses." One old Jew answered as he cried, "Long live the king! We, your servants, must bless G-d Who has given you counsel, and we must thank you for your kindheartedness in offering to pay for the restoration of our Temple. But according to our faith, we are not permitted to build the Temple; we believe that the future Temple will be built by G-d in Heaven, when He so desires." The Jews in this story took the Gemora literally, but we have noted that even according to the Rambam who says that the physical building will be built by human hands, no one is permitted to build it before the coming of moshiach.

Even if the Zionists do, G-d forbid, succeed in building a temple, it will not be the long-awaited Third Temple of G-d, but a temple of Satanic forces. This was stated 90 years ago by Rabbi Shmuel Weinberg, the Slonimer Rebbe, on his deathbed: "Jews, you must know that before the coming of the messiah, a group of unsavory people will travel to Eretz Yisroel, and they will enjoy great victories there, and they will build a temple, and a fire will come down from heaven in this temple as it did in the First Temple. And you must know that this fire will not be from the Holy Side, but from the Other Side." The previous Skulener Rebbe told Rabbi Yaakov Teitelbaum of Queens that he heard about the Slonimer Rebbe's words from trustworthy witnesses, and was willing to swear on it.

Similarly, Rabbi Yaakov Teitelbaum related that his grandfather heard Rabbi Israel of Ryzhin say over 150 years ago: "Before the coming of the messiah, a fire will come down from heaven like the fire that came down for Elijah the prophet on Mount Carmel (I Kings 18:38). Jews, you must know that it will not come down for the true prophets, but rather for the false prophets. And Jews will have to climb up sheer walls to remain with their faith." (Kol Yaakov, p. 192)

The Zionists, however, have found one source that seems to say that the Temple will be built before moshiach. The Torah says that the fruits from the fourth year in the life of a fruit-bearing tree must be eaten in Jerusalem. But if the owner wishes, he may transfer the holiness of the fruits onto money, bring the money to Jerusalem, buy food and eat it there. The Rabbis enacted that within a one-day radius of Jerusalem, the fruits themselves and not their monetary equivalent must be brought, so as to beautify the streets of Jerusalem with fruit. When the Temple was destroyed and Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Romans, there was no longer any need to beautify it, so the Rabbis suspended their decree and allowed the redemption of the fruits with money. However, they stipulated that whenever the Temple would be rebuilt, the decree would automatically come back into force (Mishnah Maaser Sheini 5:2). The Talmud Yerushalmi says, "This means that the Temple will be rebuilt before the kingship of the house of David."

The Ridbaz and the Tosafos Yom Tov explain that the Yerushalmi’s proof was that if the Temple will only be built after moshiach comes, why did Chazal have to stipulate that the decree would automatically come back into force? Won’t moshiach and his beis din be there to reenact it? So it must be that the Temple will precede the coming of moshiach.

However, the Yerushalmi does not have to mean that the Jewish people will build the Temple on their own before the coming of moshiach. Rather, it fits quite well with the Gemara in Bava Kama 60b, which says that Hashem Himself will rebuild the Temple in fire. A similar statement appears in the prayer "Nachem", recited on Tisha B'av afternoon. This is also stated by Rashi and Tosafos on Succah 41a. The Yerushalmi is telling us that this building by Hashem will take place before the coming of moshiach.

This solves an apparent problem with the Rashi and Tosafos in Succah. They say that the Temple may be built suddenly by Hashem on the first day of Pesach, and the Omer offering will be delayed until the second half of the following day. If the Temple can only be built after the coming of moshiach, and moshiach will not come on Yom Tov (Eiruvin 43a), how could the Temple be built on the first day of Pesach? But according to the Yerushalmi, the Temple will be built by Hashem before moshiach.

But the Zionists point to the Tosafos Yom Tov commentary on the Mishnah (Maaser Sheini 5:2), who quotes the Yerushalmi and explains, “Until the coming of the kingdom of the house of David, our enemies will have a little rulership over us, just like there was at the beginning of the Second Temple." If he understood the Yerushalmi to mean a Temple built by Hashem, why did he have to say the enemies will have a little rulership? Why couldn’t he understand simply that the exile will continue in full force, the enemies will have complete rulership over us, yet the Temple will be built by Hashem? So we see that he understood the Yerushalmi to mean Jews building the Temple on their own. Therefore he was bothered: how can Jews during exile build the Temple? Certainly the nations ruling Jerusalem would not permit it. To this he responds that the enemies will have only a little rulership over us at that time. It sounds as if the Jews will have some degree of sovereignty. How could that, combined with the building of the Temple, not constitute a violation of the oath against forcing the end of exile?

The Satmar Rav explains this Tosafos Yom Tov based on the Midrash in Parshas Toldos (Bereishis Rabbah 64:10): “In the days of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya, the evil kingdom (Rome) decreed that the Beis Hamikdash be built…” It goes on to say that the Jews would have built the Beis Hamikdash, but the Cuthites spoke badly of the Jews to the emperor and the emperor retracted his decree. Again we have the question: doesn’t building the beis hamikdash constitute forcing the end of exile? Why were the Jews ready to take this opportunity? The answer lies in the word “decreed.” The Romans were forcing the Jews to build the Temple. Since it would have been done completely under Roman orders, there was nothing inconsistent with exile here, and it would not have violated the oath. Here as well, the Yerushalmi means that Chazal feared that the Temple would be built under government orders before the coming of moshiach, and there would be no beis din at the time great enough to make the takanah again to bring up the fruit of neta revai. annul the previous decree (Vayoel Moshe, Chapter 61).

Seemingly, this is still not enough to explain the Tosafos Yom Tov’s words, “Our enemies will have a little rulership over us, just like there was at the beginning of the Second Temple.” If he is talking about the government forcing the Jews to build the Temple, why did he say that they will have only a little rulership? Why not complete rulership?

To answer this, we have to know the context of the Tosafos Yom Tov’s statement. He poses a question: the Torah allows the fruits to be redeemed in any location. Chazal originally decreed that they not be redeemed within a one-day radius. When the Temple was destroyed, they annulled their decree, but inserted a condition that it would automatically come back into effect when the Temple is build, lest there not be a greater beis din in existence at that time. Why will we need a greater beis din to re-enact this decree when the Temple is built? A greater beis din is only necessary when annulling an earlier decree. But here the old decree was already annulled, and a new beis din can make any new decree it wants. On this, the Tosafos Yom Tov answers that at the time of the Destruction, Chazal did not just say that one may redeem the fruits. They said that one must redeem them. The reason was that Jerusalem was now in enemy hands and Chazal did not want Jews to bring up fruit and beautify its markets. This itself was a decree and would need annulment.

Then he cites a dispute between the Rambam and the Raavad in Hilchos Mamrim 2:2. The Rambam says that if one beis din passes a decree, even if the reason for the decree is no longer there, a lesser beis din cannot annul the decree. The Raavad holds that when the reason is no longer there, any beis din, even a lesser one, could annul the decree. Seemingly, this Mishnah in Maaser Sheini is a proof to the Rambam. When the Temple is rebuilt, the reason for the decree not to bring fruits to Jerusalem will no longer be relevant, yet the Mishnah says that a new beis din will be not be able to annul it unless it is greater. How will the Raavad explain the Mishnah? The Tosafos Yom Tov says that although the Temple will be built, the enemies will still be in power over us, Jerusalem will not be completely Jewish, and thus the reason for the decree will not be completely null. He does not mean that the Jews will have any sovereignty at all. His focus is the nature of Jerusalem: how Jewish it will be. If the government forces us to build the Temple, then there will obviously have to be a Jewish community in Jerusalem. However, the government will still have “some” presence there.

And they shall make me a sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst. (25:8)

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah 16a says: Heretics, informers and freethinkers, those who deny the Torah and those who deny the revival of the dead, leaders who place fear upon the community, and those who sinned and caused other to sin, like Yeravam ben Nevat and his colleagues - go down to Gehinom and are punished there for generations and generations... Gehinom will be gone before they are gone... Why? Because they stretched out their hands against the Zvul. Zvul refers to the Beis Hamikdash, as it says, "I have built a house of Zvul for You" (Melachim I 8:13). Rashi says: They stretched out their hands against the Zvul - they destroyed the Beis Hamikdash through their sins.

The Rambam codifies this Gemara in Hilchos Teshuva 3:6, but he adds "one who denies the coming of the redeemer" to the list of heretics.

There are two questions to be asked here: 1) Where do we find that the Temple was destroyed because of the sin of heresy? The First Temple was destroyed because of idolatry, immorality and murder; the Second Temple was destroyed because of causeless hatred (Yuma 9b). 2) Even if heretics caused the destruction of the Temple, that could only have been true of those heretics who lived at the time of its destruction. How then can the Gemara make a general statement that all heretics in all generations cause the destruction of the Temple? And how can the Rambam codify this as an enduring principle of halacha?

We can answer this based on the Yerushalmi Yuma 5a: "Any generation in which the Temple was not rebuilt, it is considered as if they destroyed it." Thus, even if the actual destruction took place because of other sins, the fact that the Temple is not being built in our time is the fault of the heretics, and they are considered to have destroyed it.

Alternatively, we can answer that when Jews do mitzvos they are building the Beis Hamikdash in heaven, and when that Beis Hamikdash is complete, it will descend to earth. The Gemara in Chagigah 12b says that there are seven heavens, and the fourth one, called Zvul, contains Jerusalem and the Beis Hamikdash. This is the Beis Hamikdash that we are building through our mitzvos, but the heretics "stretch out their hands against Zvul" and destroy what we have built.

In our generation we are witness to a flood of heresy. Even many of those who claim to believe in all of the 13 Principles of Faith take actions that belie that belief. The Brisker Rav said: "The Rambam (Melachim 12:2 and Teshuva 9:2) says that moshiach will redeem the Jewish people from their subjugation to the nations. Anyone who believes that it is possible to be redeemed from subjugation to the nations without moshiach is lacking in full belief in moshiach."

We can explain this flood of heresy based on the Mishnah in Avos 5:5, which says that ten miracles occurred in the Temple, and one of them was that the Kohein Gadol never became impure on Yom Kippur. Why was that a miracle? He was pure the day before Yom Kippur, and he was kept awake the entire night (Yuma 19b), so how could he become impure? The Tosafos Yom Tov answers that life is a constant struggle between the Good Inclination and the Evil Inclination. On Yom Kippur morning when the Kohein Gadol performs the service of the day, Hashem wipes out all the sins of the Jewish people and they start again with a clean slate. The Evil Inclination, who is also the Accuser (Satan), is defeated, and he must start over again inducing the Jewish people to sin. On the night of Yom Kippur, since he knows that he will soon be defeated, he puts all his strength into this last stage of the battle. He tries to make the Kohein Gadol impure so that the service should not be performed. It was a miracle that despite his strenuous efforts, the Satan never succeeded at this.

In our time, the Satan faces an even bigger, permanent defeat. When moshiach comes and the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt, the Satan will be slaughtered (Succah 52a). The great shofar will be sounded, and he will be swallowed up (Yerushalmi quoted by Tosafos on Rosh Hashanah 16b). Knowing that his end is near, he puts up a last struggle to avert the redemption by destroying the Beis Hamikdash through heresy. He makes sure heresy spreads in the world as much as possible. For him not to succeed requires a miracle even greater than the miracle of the Kohein Gadol not becoming impure on Yom Kippur. (Vayoel Moshe, Introduction, p. 9)

Similarly, the Chofetz Chaim said, "The nature of everything is to become as strong as it can possibly be just before its time comes to disappear. Thus a candle flickers brightly just before going out, and the darkest hour is just before dawn. So when the days approach when we will see the fulfillment of the verse, 'I will cause the unclean spirit to pass from the earth' (ibid. 13:2) the uncleanness becomes strong with its last remaining power, with a strength never seen before. We can infer from this that the days of the redemption are soon to come." (Omer Ani Maasai Lamelech, section 30)