The Temple Institute: A Day in the Life of the Holy Temple: Invoking the Merit of the Patriarchs

Invoking the Merit of the Patriarchs

Like some consecrated and rarified code whose inner meaning is known to but a chosen few, the exchange continues between the watchman, at his elevated station, and those below in the courtyard. The feelings of anticipation swell within the priestly circle, as these men whose lives are sanctified to G-d wait for the first possible moment for the honor of fulfilling His will.

Once the eastern sky begins to shimmer, one of those down below will call up to his colleague: "Does the glow extend all the way to Hebron?" "Yes," the watchman replies.

The sages of the Jerusalem Talmud stated that the true design behind this part of the exchange was simply to mention Hebron, the city of the patriarchs of the Jewish people - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For the very name "Hebron" is in itself synonymous with these righteous spiritual giants who are buried there in Ma'arat HaMachpela, the famed double cave which Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hivite (see Gen. 23). The name Hebron is derived from the Hebrew chaver, "friend," for Abraham was the beloved of G-d, the first true believer, who blazed a trail for every spiritual seeker who would follow in his footsteps and likewise embark upon a quest for a relationship with the one true G-d... as Ezekiel testifies, "Abraham was one" (Ez.33:24).

The lives led by these great men were so virtuous that their merit lives on forever, as echoed by the sages of the Talmud (BT Berakhot 18:A) who enigmatically stated that "even in death, the righteous are called alive." To invoke their name, to allude to their identity - even to mention the name of the city in which they lie - is to recall their merit before the Holy One. "Does the glow extend all the way to Hebron?" That merit is strong enough to provide protection and grace for their children forever. "Yes," replies the watchman.

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