Are you feeling sad?
If you look at the Jewish calendar, you will see that we are in the middle of a mourning period known as the Three Weeks, culminating with the saddest day in the Jewish calendar: the 9th of Av.
What’s this mourning all about?
We mourn the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple that once stood in Jerusalem.
Now I know that we are supposed to be sad and mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. But if I am honest with myself — do I really care?
The messianic era as a whole does speak to me. The biblical prophets tell us that when Moshiach comes, there will be no suffering and no pain, everything good will be available in abundance, and money will grow on the trees. (Okay, I made up that last one.)
No suffering, no pain, and everything is good — sounds good! Sign me up!
What role does the Holy Temple play in this? Yes, it sounds like a cool, ancient building, and I’d love to visit it for an Instagram selfie. But is that all?
At the elementary level, the Beit Hamikdash acted as a significant unifier. Think about it as a reunion of sorts for the Jewish people.
Three times a year, Jews from all over the world gathered in one place, in Jerusalem. They could reconnect, chat, enjoy each other’s company, and foster a strong sense of community.
To take this idea a bit further, we can imagine the ceremonial service in the Holy Temple. The beautiful building was made of marble, gold, and silver; the Kohanim dressed in exquisite clothing; the orchestra played, and the choir sang beautiful, ancient melodies. Everyone got to experience this together.
On a deeper level, the Holy Temple was so much more than that. It was a place where heaven and earth met — where you could feel God’s presence like nowhere else in the world. Coming to the Holy Temple, you will be face-to-face with the divine, feeling His love and connecting with Him on the deepest levels.
The Mishna documents many miracles associated with the Holy Temple. Among them is the remarkable fact that despite the multitude of visitors that descended upon Jerusalem, there were never complaints about the space being too cramped.
Consider this for a moment. Millions of Jews in one area, and no one is kvetching? That is nothing short of miraculous!
Because of the intense spiritual energy, all physical discomforts diminished in importance.
I know that this is something I am greatly missing in my life!
The rebbe would often quote a midrash that describes how God told the Prophet Ezekiel, “The study of the design of the Holy Temple as detailed in the Torah can be equated to its actual construction.”
So now is the perfect time to study about the Holy Temple. I highly recommend watching the video “The Temple — Herod’s Crowning Glory” on YouTube for a beautiful presentation on this topic.
You can also explore the actual text of the Torah in the book of Exodus (chapter 25 and on), in the book of Ezekiel, as well in the laws of Beit Habechira in Maimonides’ Mishne Torah (all available online with English translation).
As we learn about the Holy Temple, let us pray for a time when we will experience God’s closeness again.
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the rabbi of Chabad of Hackensack and an editorial member of Chabad.org. He welcomes your comments at rabbi@ChabadHackensack.com