|Why build the Temple?
Why this fuss over an ancient, seemingly outdated concept? What relationship does the Holy Temple have to our world today? The people of Israel have lived without a Temple for nearly 2,000 years, and seem to be doing fine without one. We don't seem to need it, and G-d certainly doesn't, so why think about rebuilding?
202 Biblical Commandments
The Jewish people accepted the "Yoke of Heaven," the structure of their relationship with the Creator and their spiritual responsibility, at the Mount Sinai revelation. This relationship is based on Israel's acceptance and fulfillment of the Torah's 613 Divine commandments. But in fact, fully one third - 202 of these commandments - are totally dependent on the existence of the Holy Temple for their fulfillment. But what is our attitude regarding these commandments? Do we think of them as inactive, dormant, dead? Do we believe that they are no longer applicable? Do we perhaps relegate them to that nebulous time of messianic redemption; that they will only be activated in the future with the coming of the messiah?
The Torah's commandments are eternal, for now and forever
Nothing can be further from the truth. Maimonides teaches (Sefer Igeret Ha'Shmad) that the performance of all the commandments are not dependent on the coming of the messiah. They are to be fulfilled at all times. G-d does not change His mind, or nullify any of the commandments included in the Torah, which were given once, for all time. In lieu of Temple service, we may observe various "remembrances" of these commandments, but that is all they are - merely gestures of nostalgia.
Fish out of water
But we fool ourselves if we think that the state of Judaism today, without the Temple, is normal. On the contrary, we are like fish out of water. If 1/3 of all the Torah's commandments center on the Temple, it would seem that Biblical observance in the Temple's absence is but a skeleton of what G-d had intended it to be.
Our spiritual alienation
Sadly, much of our contemporary attitudes regarding the Holy Temple are a reflection of our own spiritual bankruptcy and alienation from the spiritual underpinnings of true Torah knowledge and faith. The Holy Temple was not some magnificent building. It was the direct arena for our direct relationship with G-d; the unfolding saga of man's greatest spiritual longing. It was a place where heaven and earth met; a meeting place for man and G-d.
Our relationship with G-d
At this one place on earth, unlike any other, the one place that the Creator Himself chose to rest His presence, the rectification of man's connection with G-d takes place. All people were able to come to the Temple to partake in this direct and fulfilling bond; to recharge their spiritual batteries and come away with a renewed sense of purpose and being.
A new era of universal harmony
Every prophet of Israel, without exception, prophesized that the Temple would be rebuilt, ushering in a new era of universal harmony and peace unparalleled in the history of man. Thus, the "movement" to rebuild the Holy Temple is not new. It was born almost 2,000 years ago, at the moment of the Second Temple's destruction. For when the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, it was the soul of Jewish people... and the entire world... as we believe it will be once again.
The rebuilding of the Holy Temple: In our time?
The reality of the Jewish experience means that the Temple will be rebuilt. Many people who visit the Temple Institute are incredulous and cannot help but exclaim: "Do you really think that you will live to see the Holy Temple rebuilt?" The answer to that question is of little importance. Let us rather recall that Jewish history has a trajectory, which began when the patriarch Abraham smashed his father's idols. That trajectory has spanned the millennia, and it is obvious that we are rapidly approaching climactic times, in which the Holy Temple will once again become the focal point for mankind's spiritual focus. Whether this transpires in our generation or not, we can still choose to be active participants, and not simply spectators, in G-d's bold plan for the Redemption of Israel and all humanity.