"For out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem."
This past Monday, (June 2nd), marked a double anniversary: the reunification of Jerusalem forty one years ago in the Six Day War, and the death of the prophet Samuel nearly three thousand years ago. This historical "coincidence" is in fact highly appropriate, as the life and deeds of Samuel are profoundly bound together with the life and renaissance of Jerusalem, then and now. Samuel, of course, was the last judge to lead the tribes of Israel, concluding the historical period described in the Book of Judges. As such, Samuel, (reluctantly), anointed Israel's first two kings: Saul and David. When David conquered the small walled stronghold of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, he expressed his desire to build a Holy Temple to G-d on Mount Moriah, a plot of land just north of Jerusalem which David had purchased from a Jebusite by the name of Ornan.
It was at this point that Samuel stepped in. Midrash teaches us that Samuel met with David and for the duration of one fateful night the two together poured over an ancient text, known as the scroll of the Holy Temple. The scroll had been handed by G-d to Moses at Mount Sinai, and it contained the blueprints for the future Temple. With the advent of the monarchy and triumphant conquest of Jerusalem, Samuel realized that the historic moment had arrived. Not only did he share the Temple Scroll with David, but he also presented innovations and oversaw the laying of the foundations of the Holy Temple that King Solomon would eventually complete.
But Samuel's impact on the history of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple goes far beyond his personal involvement in the Temple's early construction. Samuel was consecrated by his mother Hannah, even before he was born, to be raised and educated in the Tabernacle which then stood at Shiloh. His upbringing in the service of G-d and within such close proximity of His holy presence had a profound impact on Samuel. As an adult, and in his capacity as shofet - judge - and prophet over the children of Israel, Samuel brought the sanctity of the Tabernacle to the people in the form of the justice that he meted out. Tirelessly traveling from town to town he nurtured the villagers' love of Torah, love of justice and love for G-d at a critical time in the nation's history, as the loosely held together confederation of Israelite tribes was being beset by an ever increasing existential threat at the hands of the growing might of the Philistines.
Pressed by the people, Samuel anointed Saul as king. King Saul's eventual downfall came as a result, not of a military defeat, (for he had subdued the Amelekites), but as a result of his failure to mete justice. The dispensation of justice would become for King David the true test of his dedication to the G-d of Israel, and his submission to G-d's justice would lead to his acquisition of Mount Moriah. No figure in Scriptures is more closely identified with justice then David's son Solomon, the builder of the first Holy Temple.
We are often asked at the Temple Institute, "How long will it take to build the Holy Temple?" Clearly when the decision is taken to begin the monumental project of rebuilding the Holy Temple, destroyed by the Romans some two thousand years ago, there will be no shortage of architects and artisans and engineers and masons to complete the task swiftly. But the true answer to the question "How long?" can only be expressed in the following manner: As long as it takes for justice, true justice as revealed to the nations of the world by Torah, the word of the living G-d, to spring forth from Zion, to be sounded in Jerusalem. That's how long it will take to build G-d's Holy Temple. For where there is justice, G-d will reign. From where justice spreads forth, His presence will dwell.
Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK to hear Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss the prophet Samuel, Jerusalem Day, and the upcoming festival of Shavuoth.
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