On the roof of the Aish center looking down at the Western Wall with Chevra & Davai in 2011

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Parsha Terumah – Too many details…

As I was reading the Torah portion of Terumah this year, a thought occurred to me…

Too many details… There are many places where the Torah leaves out a lot of the background story and allows the Talmud and the Middrash to fill in the blanks. Tefillan are a great example. All the Torah tells us is that we should wear them. The oral tradition tells us what they are. In Terumah, it seems to give a lot of details that aren’t so inspiring or interesting. If I would have been on the Torah writing committee, I would have probably opted to spend more time with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob and less time on the exact details of the Tabernacle.

The parsha give us a plethora of details about the construction of the following the Ark, Table, Menorah & Tabernacle. This might have been very important for them to know how to build, but what relevance does it have to us? Let’s give a brief overview in no particular order…

1. Aron (Ark) as in "Raiders of the Lost…" This is where the 10 commandments and the Torah were kept.
2. Shulchan (Table). This is wear the showbreads were placed.
3. Menorah (Menorah?)  The Menorah is the Menorah.  There is a difference between the Menorah in the Temple and the one we use on Chanuhah.  The Menorah in the Temple had 6 branches plus the Shamash making a total of 7 where the ones we use today have 8 branches plus the Shamash making a total of 9.
4. Mizbe'ach (Alter) The Alter is the place where the Kohanim (Preists) offered sacrifices.
5. Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Mishkan was the early portable version of the Beis Ha Mikdash (Holy Temple.) It was used until King Soloman built the first Temple in Jerusalem. That lasted about 400 years until it was destroyed by the Babylonians. The second Temple was built 70 or so years later by Ezra and rebuild by Herod the Great. That also lasted about 400 years until it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. When the Moshiach (Messiah) comes, we will have a Third and final Temple.

One of the many questions that’s asked about the 3rd Temple is how is it going to happen? Since it will exist at the site of the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock currently resided, how will the transition take place?
Do we have to take over the Temple Mount, knock down what’s there and build the Temple?
Will our cousins be so inspired by the truth of the Moshiach that they will voluntarily take down the Dome of the Rock.
Where will we get the supplies from the build it?
Where will we get the expertise to build it?

There seem to be a ton of questions about the details of how this will work.

The great Torah commentator, Rashi, gives us a clue on how to understand this in his commentary to chapter 25, verse 31. After all the details of how the Menorah should be built were given, Rashi says that Moses was still confused about how to build it. So G-d told him to throw a kikar of fold into the fire and G-d formed the Menorah himself.

One of my favorite answers to how the 3rd Temple will be come about is that G-d will build it in heaven and place it on the Temple Mount himself. The key for us is to try not to get too overwhelmed with the details. If we do what we’re supposed to do, learn Torah and perform G-d’s commandments, he’ll take care of the details.

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