October 7, 2013 Monday 3 Heshvan 5774
by Chaim Richman
This is how the Third Temple will be rebuilt - When we see how the nation of Israel is peacefully changing the facts on the ground.
The upcoming month of Mar Heshvan is the only month of the Hebrew calendar that does not feature even a minor observance – not even a fast day.
Especially given the fact that this month comes right after the action-packed month of Tishrei – which is host to the High Holy Days and Succot, with its high-profile, action-oriented mitzvot – this month of Mar Heshvan seems particularly drab and colorless... a fitting introduction to winter.
After the rush of adrenalin we experience in Tishrei that manifests itself in every aspect of our prayers and spiritual pursuits, is this month not something of an anticlimax? Indeed, as the month of Heshvan enters, the concept of disappointment seems to transcend our personal idiom and take on a universal theme, running parallel to our own lives, through the Torah portions that begin the month. In the Torah portion of Bereshit, we are told God was pleased with the world. Upon completing His creation, He looked and beheld that it was very good. Yet by the time we reach the end of the portion – and a mere 10 generations have passed from Adam to Noah – God was so disappointed with His creation He regretted having made man, and decided to destroy all life with the exception of the righteous Noah and those with him in the ark. And don’t forget that it was on the 17th day of this very month of Mar Heshvan that the flood began.
But a fascinating mystical tradition relates that although on the surface Heshvan doesn’t have much to offer, in truth, the best is yet to come: “The Tabernacle of the desert was completed by Moses in the month of Kislev, however the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded him to wait until the following Nisan to inaugurate it. The month of Kislev was embarrassed, and so God rewarded her with the rededication of the Second Temple, during the era of Hanukka.
“The First Temple, built by King Solomon, was completed during the month of Mar Heshvan [the month known as ‘Bul’; see I Kings 6:38], however, through Divine inspiration, King Solomon knew that he was not to dedicate it until the following Tishrei. So, the month of Mar Heshvan was embarrassed... and God promised to repay it in the future, with the dedication ceremony of the Third Temple.”
(Midrash Yalkut Melachim 184 as cited in Bnei Yissaschar) HOW SHOULD a tradition such as this be understood? Is it merely an anecdote, a whimsical tale of a “month being embarrassed,” devoid of any significance in our real world? What would it take to make a dream like this – the dream of the dedication of the Third Temple – come true? If there is one thing we know about the Jewish people, it’s that our dreams always come true. But it is the people of Israel themselves who make these dreams happen.
A constant recurring theme in the Torah is that everything is up to us. This is exactly why the Sea of Reeds did not split until one man – Nachshon, the son of Aminadav, prince of the tribe of Judah – walked out into the water until the sea came up to his nostrils, and he could walk no further. God made a miracle, to be sure... but only after one man showed Israel that nothing will happen until we do all that we can possibly do ourselves... and not a drop less.
There is a spiritual revolution taking place in Israel. This past Succot bore witness to a great outpouring of Jewish love, dedication and devotion to the Temple Mount, as seen by the huge crowds, hailing from all over the land as well as from abroad, who withstood waiting on lines in the blistering sun for hours, and indignation at the hands of the police, all for the chance of even a brief opportunity to ascend the mountain.
Those who succeeded felt the life-changing effect of being in this unique place, “seen by God” in the holiest place on earth, and of being part of the unfolding destiny of the nation of Israel and the redemption of all humanity – especially on the festival of Succot, whose observance in the Holy Temple effects a rectification for all mankind. Those who ascended could not wait to return and vowed to come back again and again... and those who waited long hours only to be turned away were only strengthened in their resolve to return to visit the Temple Mount as often as possible.
This is how the Third Temple will be rebuilt. When we see how the nation of Israel, with its collective, intuitive wisdom and pure faith, is peacefully changing the facts on the ground, we can understand how, after such a Tishrei, Mar Heshvan is anything but drab... it is laden with promise and potential, because the best is yet to come.
We can understand how the Jewish people will see to it that Hashem will keep His promise to the month of Heshvan, with the dedication of the new Holy Temple, which will bring about the resting of the Divine Presence and the ultimate healing of all mankind. This is the plain and simple meaning of this enigmatic Midrashic teaching: If we will it, it will be.
The writer, a rabbi, is the director of the international department of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem.