The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: MarCheshvan 4, 5772/November 1, 2011

"All the families of the earth shall be blessed in you."
(Genesis 12:3)

Noach saves humanity from annihilation and G-d makes a covenant with him, symbolized by the rainbow which appears after the storm. A new modus vivendi has been established between G-d, man and nature. The seasons will be regulated and G-d will never again cause a flood of mass destruction to come to pass. Yet, despite the new start, man soon strays as before. Having been punished once for their "every-man-for-himself," "dog-eat-dog" selfishness, man's evil inclination once again gets the better of him. This time man bands together to build a tower to the heavens in the hope to unseat G-d and to return to the rapacious ways of the past. G-d quickly deals with this, but what to do, man simply seems bent on self-destruction. And then comes Avraham.

Avraham sought out G-d. Avraham perceived the beauty of the world, the mountains, the rivers, the valleys, the heavens, and all the creatures and plants that populated the world. And Avraham perceived the beauty and the potential inherent in every human being, and Avraham sought out the author of all this beauty. And G-d responded: "And HaShem said to Avram, 'Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will aggrandize your name, and [you shall] be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.'" (Genesis 12:1-3) For the first time in the history of the world there existed a man who longed for G-d and who wanted to dwell in G-d's presence. And this was all that G-d ever desired, to be wanted by the world which He created. And together these two new fast friends forever would set off on a series of adventures, trials and tests, to be sure, for Avraham, and also for G-d. So taken with Avraham's love and unswerving faith, G-d determined that this time He would not suffice with a temporal, occasional sign of His covenant in the appearance of the rainbow in the cloud, but that His friendship with Avraham would take a much more permanent and intimate form.

Such is the covenant of Avraham avinu - our patriarch Abraham - which he was commanded to perform on himself and then on his children, the brit milah, the covenant of circumcision. This covenant would make permanent and forever the bond between Avraham and G-d. And G-d's love for Avraham was so great that He commanded that the brit milah be performed on and incised into every male child of Avraham, till the end of time, "throughout your generations." (ibid 17:12) Never again would there be a disconnect between G-d and man, for via the seed of Avraham and his son Yitzchak, (Isaac), man and G-d would always be as one.

And so it is, together through life, generation after generation, the seed of Avraham seeks out the one true G-d, and G-d takes delight in the offspring of His precious friend, and through them, all humanity. What began as a beautiful friendship remains to this day, and eternal bond, marked in our flesh, in our hearts and in our souls.

Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK, as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven, transfixed by the magic swirl of time, from Genesis to Lech Lecha, from creation, through the flood, the dispersion, and the emergence of Abraham, observe how the past few week's Torah readings have seen the generations whir by, each taking its place and fulfilling its role in G-d's grand scheme. This week's special Mazal Tov Edition of TEMPLE TALK finds Yitzchak Reuven and Rabbi Richman joyfully watching their own new generations taking their places as well, as each thank G-d for a precious new grandson born to each of them this past week. Rabbi Richman loses his shopping wagon in the market, it winds up in another city 40 miles away - and is returned to him the next morning. What's that got to do with the generation of the Great Flood and the emergence of our forefather Abraham? Everything, if we understand the transition from selfishness to altruism, and the fact that the world is saved by one selfless gesture at a time. It's the month of Mar Cheshvan, the month of the Great Flood in the time of Noah and the month of rains - G-d willing - in the Land of Israel. Every detail of this month is a reflection of Temple-consciousness; even the lack of holidays during this month is just an allusion to the great event of the dedication of the Third Temple which is one day scheduled to take place during this month. This week also marks the 836th anniversary of the Maimonides' historic ascent to the Temple Mount.

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