The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: I Adar 4, 5771/February 8, 2011

"You shall make holy garments for your brother Aharon, for honor and beauty."
(Exodus 28:2)

We live in a virtual world. Via the internet we can travel in an instant from one "reality" to another. The film director James Cameron invested millions of dollars in developing cutting edge computer technology for the purpose of creating an illusion of three dimensions. The effect was so compelling that viewers in the theatre flinched in fear as characters and objects seem to fly out at them. "Reality" shows abound, which bear no resemblance to real reality. In fact, the modern world seems to be engaged in a vast retreat from reality, substituting true reality with virtual.

Actors can now be outfitted with special suits covered with electrodes, which, connected to a computer, can recreate a digital map of the actors every motion, upon which a virtual computer generated image of an imaginary being can be laid, creating an ever so realistic rendering of a non-existing entity. Time and space can be deconstructed and reconstructed in this virtual pixel-friendly world.

Hundreds of million dollars and some of today's very brightest minds are invested in creating an ever expanding virtual universe. But alas, the virtual worlds which are being woven before our very eyes every day, lack any real substance. And more to the point, the characters that inhabit them lack souls, and the masters of these universes are not G-d, but mortal man. These virtual worlds are no more real than the conjurings of the magicians of ancient Egypt. And its all being done in the name of profiting from what we moderns call "leisure time," a concept which itself seems to smack of paganity. Did G-d really create us mortal beings with a limited stay upon this earth so that we can while away our idle time in virtual frivolity?

Now try imagining a place where the reality is not virtual, but real, very real. This reality is so real, so true and so pure that it transcends our everyday reality and merges with the source and the light of all reality. This is the Holy Temple, a reality filled with the presence of G-d, emanating from the Holy of Holies, the most sacred spot on earth, spreading forth and reaching out, filling all the confines of the Holy Temple and its courtyards, into the holy city of Jerusalem, the sacred land of Israel and throughout the entire world. G-d's presence: in other words, reality. Real reality as G-d defines it. Not virtual reality as man imagines it.

The High Priest, the kohen gadol, is outfitted with a special garment, whose every detail is painstakingly described in Torah. The fibers of purple and blue and scarlet and gold, the ply of the threads, the weave of the fabric are all described for the finest dyers and spinners and weavers and outfitters to fashion. The twelve stones of the High Priest's breastplate and the two stones that are placed upon each shoulder are identified by Torah, for the finest jewelers and stone cutters and polishers to craft and to set in place. The tzitz, the solid gold crown which sits across the High Priest's forehead is detailed by Torah for the most highly skilled goldsmith to form and to fashion.

These priestly garments, every fiber and every flashing facet of every finely cut stone and gold chain and golden crown, upon which is engraved, "Holy to HaShem," the blue tunic and the linen pants all are plugged in and connected, not to a computer, but to G-d and also to man, every man. It is true that only the High Priest, wearer of the Priestly garments can enter the Holy of Holies, and that no other man other than he can enter. But the High Priest can only enter wearing his specially crafted garments, and that is because, not only do they express an unbreakable connection to G-d, but because they also express an impregnable bond to every man. Every fiber and every flashing facet of every finely cut stone and gold chain and golden crown, "Holy to HaShem," the blue tunic and the linen pants express and reflect every facet of our spiritual beings, our passions, our strengths and aspirations, our weaknesses and our faults. And wearing these garments of "honor and beauty," the High Priest stands before G-d in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. He stands alone before G-d, but the garment belongs to all of us. Through the wearing of these garments we all enter the reality of the Holy Temple. This is the reality that G-d has enabled us to access. Real, not virtual, pure, not defiled. Where time isn't occupied by leisure, but every moment rings true. This is the reality that truly leaps out at us and that draws us in to the presence of G-d. And what a reality this is: the Holy Temple.

Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven explore this year's extra month of Adar and its precious gift of time. They also attempt to come to grips with the thought that the holy Torah might just intend every word it contains! For 2000 years of exile the idea of really rebuilding the Holy Temple was something that was over the rainbow, inaccessible, "impossible" to achieve. So the whole topic of the Holy Temple became an allegory for other things. Now that Israel has returned to her land and the concept of rebuilding the Holy Temple is not only staggeringly achievable but also historically inevitable, it's time to retire the allegories and re-understand the commandment to build the Holy Temple on its literal level. The additional month of Adar with which we are blessed this year is not for marking time, but for making the most out of the gift of time. Getting serious about the Holy Temple is one way to start.

Complete Show