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by Rabbi Dovid Siegel
This week's haftorah shares with us an important perspective regarding our
long dark exile and the brilliant light awaiting us at the end of it. The
haftorah begins in the midst of an elaborate prophetic vision that the
prophet Yechezkel was privileged to view. In the previous three chapters
Hashem showed the prophet the detailed blueprints of the future and final
magnificent Bais Hamikdash. In our haftorah Hashem instructed Yechezkel to
share his vision with the Jewish people. Hashem said, "Tell the House of
Israel the vision of the Bais Hamikdash in order that they should be
embarrassed from their sins when they measure the completed structure."
(43:10) Yechezkel was commanded to remind the Jewish people about their
wrongdoings which ultimately led to the destruction of the previous Bais
Hamikdash. They were presently in the midst of the Babylonian exile and the
sight of the Bais Hamikdash was intended to remind them of all their
previous faults. They could easily realize that the Bais Hamikdash would
have been theirs if not for their previous sinful ways.
Hashem continued, "And if they are embarrassed for all of their wrongdoings
then show them the form of the Bais Hamikdash, its specific rooms,
entrances and exits .... and write this before them and they should retain
its entire image and all its specifications and they will construct them."
The Radak explains that the prophet Yechezkel was given specific
instructions to reveal these detailed plans only after the Jewish people
sensed embarrassment. Only after regretting their sinful ways which caused
the destruction the first Temple would the Jews be privileged to observe
the vision of the third Bais Hamikdash. Apparently the reason for this was
because this edifice would be an everlasting one and could only be
constructed after the world was free of sin. Therefore, even beholding the
sight of the third Bais Hamikdash required special merit and only those who
had forsaken their sinful ways could be privileged to view it.
But in truth, the timing of this prophecy requires serious reflection. The
Scriptures reveals earlier (see 40:1) that this prophecy came to Yechezkel
fourteen years into the Babylonian exile long before the second Temple was
even in sight. It is therefore quite shocking for us to discover here a
prophecy about the third Bais Hamikdash, rather than the second. The wounds
of the first Temple's destruction were not healed and Hashem was already
revealing the plans for the third Temple. Wouldn't it have been more timely
and appropriate to share with the Jewish people visions of the second
Temple rather than the third?!
The lesson which can be gleaned from this is a striking perspective about
Hashem's mercy and kindness. Radak explains the above passages in the
following manner. The Jewish people were being presented a challenge and at
the same time an extraordinary opportunity. Hashem revealed to them that
they could be granted the personal privilege of erecting the third and
final Bais Hamikdash. If they repented and contemplated their final
redemption they could be ultimately involved in every one of its aspects.
Although the Jewish people were presently in exile they were shown then a
glimpse of the perfect world, the one after the revival of the deceased.
They were informed that it was within their ability to merit their personal
return in that final era and to actually be personally involved in the
construction of the third Bais Hamikdash.
Yechezkel told them to focus on every detail of the future Bais Hamikdash
and commit it to memory. If they believed in and aspired to being present
during that glorious era they would merit it. And if they concentrated now
on the details of the construction of the Bais Hamikdash and their
participation therein they would actually merit it then. The Radak quotes
as his source, the famous principle of Chazal, "Whoever believes in the
advent of Mashiach will merit the redemption." Radak explains that in this
same vein Hashem gave the Jewish people, then in exile, the opportunity of
constructing the third Bais Hamikdash. They were informed that if they
believed in it and in their participation therein they would merit it.
With the above in mind we now understand and appreciate the timely message
of Hashem regarding redemption. This special revelation at its particular
moment was intended to be an unbelievable comforting thought to the Jewish
people. At that time they viewed themselves as rejected by Hashem and
couldn't envision a glorious era awaiting themselves. They felt lost in
exile and had forfeited their cherished relationship with Hashem. Suddenly
during their moments of despair Hashem revealed to them His boundless love.
Hashem showed them that during those very same moments, He was focusing on
their most glorious era, the era of Mashiach. He reminded them not to
despair because their trying predicament was but a fleeting moment on the
horizon of eternity. Hashem therefore showed them a glimpse of eternity and
their personal involvement in it. He invited them to rise above their
present predicament and focus on their bright future. If they could display
sincere faith in Hashem they would, in fact, rebuild the final Bais Hamikdash.
Hashem's love for the Jewish people is eternal and even during our most
trying times Hashem is focusing on this eternity. The Jewish people were
therefore given here the fullest opportunity to repent. If they could
regret their past and forsake their sinful ways eternity would be theirs.
Now in the midst of their exile they could actually prepare for the
construction of the final Bais Hamikdash and establish themselves as the
builders of eternity. Hashem's love transcends all borders, time included,
and is always focused on the eternal redemption of His people. We should
learn from this never to despair and to realize that there is always a
glorious moment awaiting us soon.
Rabbi Dovid Siegel
Kollel Toras Chesed Phone: 847-674-7959
3732 West Dempster E-mail: email@example.com
Skokie, Illinois 60076 URL: http://www.arlin.net/kollel
Haftorah, Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi Dovid Siegel and Torah.org.
The author is Rosh Kollel (Dean) of Kollel Toras Chesed, Skokie, Illinois.