Friday, March 16, 2007

Moshe and the Bais HaMikdash

In this week’s parashah, Pekudei, it is said eileh fekudei HaMishkan mishkan haeidus asher pukad al pi Moshe avodas haleviim beyad Issamar Ben Aharon HaKohen, these are the reckonings of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of Testimony, which were reckoned at Moshe’s’ bidding. The labor of the Levites was under the authority of Issamar, son of Aharon the Kohen. Rashi writes that the reason the Torah repeats the word mishkan is to teach us that the Bais HaMikdash was nismahkein, taken as collateral, i.e. destroyed, because of the sins of the Jewish People. This statement is quite perplexing, because the verse is discussing the construction of the Mishkan, which was a joyous time in Jewish history. Why would the Torah choose this instance to highlight future sufferings and devastation? Furthermore, Rashi in his next comment writes that the Mishkan was referred to as mishkan haeidus, Tabernacle of Testimony, because it was a testimony for the Jewish People that HaShem was willing to forego the sin of the Golden Calf. This was reflected in the fact that HaShem rested His Divine Presence amongst the Jewish People. One must wonder why Rashi initially writes that the extra word mishkan alludes to future destruction, and then Rashi writes that the mishkan itself was a testimony that the Jewish People gained atonement. This is further perplexing because the Bais HaMikdash is referred to as Levanon because it whitened, i.e. cleansed the sins of the Jewish People. How can it be that the terms used to describe the Bais HaMikdash have positive and negative connotations? To gain an understanding into this perplexity, we must examine an equally perplexing statement that is brought in various sefarim in the name of a Medrash (see Orach Chaim Bamidbar 20:8; Devarim 1:37). The Medrash states that had Moshe entered into Eretz Yisroel, he would have built the Bais HaMikdash, which never would have been destroyed. Were the Jewish People to sin, HaShem would have had no choice but to annihilate the Jewish People, as He could not destroy the Bais HaMikdash that was built by Moshe. This statement is difficult to comprehend, because reason would dictate that HaShem would prefer to destroy the Bais HaMikdash, which was a structure of wood and stone, than to destroy His Chosen Nation. The answer to these questions can be found in the Zohar that states that the Jewish People received two crowns when they accepted the Torah, and they forfeited these crowns when they worshipped the Golden Calf. Nonetheless, the Zohar states that Moshe returns these crowns to the Jewish People every Shabbos. These crowns are spiritual rewards, and on Shabbos, a Jew is elevated to a level above the sin of the Golden Calf. Although this sin is a permanent stain on our record until the End of Days, Shabbos in some form mitigates the effect of this sin. This rectification is performed through Moshe. We can now better understand the perplexing statements of Rashi. The Bais HaMikdash was destroyed because of our sins, yet the destruction was only collateral, because the Bais HaMikdash itself serves as atonement. In a similar vein, despite the fact that the Jewish People sinned by worshipping the Golden Calf, the crowns were only taken from them as collateral. Moshe, who had it in his power to sustain the Bais HaMikdash forever, is also capable of restoring the crowns on Shabbos, as Shabbos in time is equivalent to the Bais HaMikdash in space. It is noteworthy that the words asher pukad al pi Moshe can be interpreted to mean: that was rendered deficient through Moshe. The word pukad can also mean deficient, as it is said (Bamidbar 31:49) velo nifkad mimenu ish, and not a man of us is missing. Thus, our verse alludes to the idea that the Bais HaMikdash was allowed to be destroyed because Moshe was missing, i.e. Moshe did not enter Eretz Yisroel. It is also worth noting that the words pukad al pi Moshe equal in gematria Shabbos hi, it is Shabbos, as Moshe returns the crowns to the Jewish People on Shabbos, and this is the equivalent of the Bais HaMikdash serving as an atonement for the Jewish People. This idea is also reflected in the extra reading this week of Parashas HaChodesh, where we read the words (Shemos 12:4) veim yimat habayis mihyos miseh velakach hu ushcheino hakarov el beiso, but if the household will be too small for a lamb or kid, then he and his neighbor who is near his house shall take according to the number of people. This verse can be interpreted as follows: if the “house” is missing, i.e. the Bais HaMikdash is destroyed, because of miseh, which can be read as Moshe, i.e. because Moshe did not enter into Eretz Yisroel, the Bais HaMikdash was allowed to be destroyed. What then is the solution to have the Bais HaMikdash be rebuilt? Then and he and his neighbor who is near his house shall take… i.e. the Jewish People shall unite as one, and Shabbos, which is the secret of unity, will provide us with the awaited redemption. It is truly amazing that the words hu ushcheino hakarov equal in gematria Shabbos. May HaShem allow us to merit becoming unified and then we will be truly deserving of the arrival of Moshiach and the Ultimate Redemption, speedily, in our days.

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