The Temple Institute: A Day in the Life of the Holy Temple: In Conclusion

In Conclusion

On this note, it is fitting that we conclude our study with one particular Midrashic teaching that deserves our particular attention.

According to tradition, the Second Holy Temple, like the first, was destroyed at the conclusion of the Shabbat - on Saturday night. Both Josephus and the Midrashic writings describe how even though the flames of destruction raged all around, and the blood of the slain flowed through the Temple, the priests nevertheless continued to serve atop the altar, and the levites did not cease to sing, right up until the very end.

Yet despite the fact that the actual destruction of the Holy Temple took place on a Saturday night, the Midrash records that at those moments the Levites sang the song for Wednesday - "O L-rd G-d, to whom vengeance belongs; O G-d, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!" Why did they not sing the song for that day of the week, which was Saturday?

Now according to the insight from the Zohar which we have quoted above, we can understand that the levites were addressing their song to the destruction itself, and consoling Israel by reminding her that God has sworn vengeance against His enemies. In this context perhaps their song was even meant to "remind" G-d to keep His word, and to "shine forth" at the proper time, to manifest Himself in the garb of Divine vengeance.

But now that we have examined the close relationship between each day of the week and its respective song, and seen something of the great insight and understanding which the sages of Israel possess, perhaps we can shed new light on this perplexing question... based on our own contemporary knowledge, and the wisdom and experience that we have acquired from hindsight in our own times. For although the sages of yore were great and inspired, we in our own generation, are privy to new understanding to which those great men had no access; in short, we have new evidence.

For on that fateful evening of destruction, it is true that the priests and levites consoled each other and all of Israel with the knowledge that G-d will avenge His honor; perhaps their song summarized the entire epoch. It is certainly possible that they chose to remind the Holy One of his own vow, as well.

But while all of these explanations are acceptable, it is also quite possible that as the Levites stood atop the platform in that place of sublime inspiration and holiness for the last time, all of a moment they received the most profound flash of prophetic revelation...

And they prophesied, they saw with perfect clarity of vision, that although the terrible destruction now loomed all around them on this Saturday evening, the continuation of their service would most certainly come about as well. The day would come when the Holy Temple would be rebuilt. Though it may be far off in the distance, it would certainly transpire, for it is a Divine promise...

At that moment they could see that it would truly come to be. The rebuilding would happen, even if it happens very slowly, and in stages, one step at a time. For like the morning dawn, "such is the way of Israel's redemption. In the beginning, it progresses very slowly... but as it continues, it grows brighter and brighter" (JT Berakhot 1:1).

So too, the Levites perceived that the long process of Israel's redemption, hinging on the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, would begin again on a Wednesday... thus they sang the song of Wednesday, for they sang not of destruction, or revenge, but of promise continuation, renewal and rebirth:

The Levites saw that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount would stand desolate for nearly two millennia... but they would be regathered by Israel once again on a Wednesday: Wednesday, June 7th, 1967 was the day they saw, and perhaps this day could be considered the first step towards the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. For this day marked a turning point in Jewish history, and began a new era, which progresses in our own time, and moves towards the great destiny of the Jewish people, to be a light to the nations and a people who walk with G-d in their midst.

END
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