MAKING A DWELLING FOR HASHEM IN MINIATURE
July 23, 2014
Beis Moshiach in #935, Bein HaMeitzarim, Feature

For some people, yearning for the third Beis HaMikdash did not remain in the realm of emotional longing but drove them to undertake personal projects to create models of the Beis HaMikdash. Dozens of these models have been made over the years and have inspired countless Jews. * During the Three Weeks, as we learn the Hilchos Beis HaBechira, as Chazal say, “Whoever delves into the laws of the Bayis is considered as though he built it,” we take a look at the stories behind many of the models that were made of the Beis HaMikdash. * Part 1 of 2

BUILDING AND YEARNING

Dozens of models of the Beis HaMikdash have been made over the years. Behind every one of those models are special people who invested their energy, their talents, their time, and their money to plan and construct a miniature Beis HaMikdash. They used their artistic talents to study and become familiar with the Bayis and all its details.

Some of the models are for learning and some have been hobbies, but the common denominator amongst them all is that they are a tangible expression of the inner yearning of Jews who are waiting to see the third Beis HaMikdash. Surprisingly, some models were made by non-Jews (maybe it’s something along the lines of “for My house is a house of prayer for all the nations”).

HISTORIC MODELS AND SOME STORIES

Many models were made in recent years, but the Mikdash model making phenomenon has a history to it. The first model that we find testimony about was a model constructed in Holland over 350 years ago. R’ Zalman Koren, a Mikdash researcher and designer of a model of the Mikdash that you can see when going on the Kosel tunnels tour, tells us about it:

“The Holland model is written about in a book called Tavnis Heichal which was printed in Amsterdam in 1650. The book was written by Yaakov Yehuda Aryeh. In the Haggadas Amsterdam there is a picture of a three dimensional Beis HaMikdash and some think it is a picture of the model mentioned in the Tavnis Heichal.”

The architect and German missionary, Conrad Schick, who lived in Yerushalayim over 100 years ago, built a model of the Mikdash. That model is now located opposite the Damascus Gate in the Schmidt school, a Christian school. His model is large and very wide and is made of wood. It was commissioned by Turkish authorities for display at the Ottoman pavilion at the 1873 World Fair in Vienna.

“Schick learned a lot by the Jews and took a great interest in all the Jewish laws,” says Koren.

Another important model of the Beis HaMikdash was constructed by Mr. Yaakov Yehudah, a renowned architect and artist. He made aliya in the 1920’s and made several models. He thoroughly researched the subject from both Talmudic and archaeological standpoints. He made a large model (three meters by three meters) which was acclaimed by the great scholars of turn-of-the-century Yerushalayim, including Rav Iser Zalman Meltzer, Rav Kook and Rav Herzog. He displayed his newly constructed model at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. 

His model made a tremendous impression on all who beheld it at the time, and it was written up in Life Magazine, May 21st. Unfortunately, the model is no longer in existence.

Mr. Yehuda was a Russian citizen and with the outbreak of World War II he left the US. Before he left, he sold the model to an American. Over the years, the model was displayed on the Lower East Side of New York and was then sold to blacks. Until the 1960’s, there were still accounts of Jews who went to see it. It is said that those who bought the model made a business out of it and righteous women who went to say T’hillim near the model paid to do so.

Another model of the Mikdash was permanently on display in R’ Meir Shapiro’s Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. The model was set up in the lobby of the yeshiva. It was four meters wide and six meters long. It was made by the artist Chanoch Weintraub who worked on it for years while studying the sources. In the yeshiva there was a guide who explained the model to visitors and tourists. 

R’ Zalman Koren said that he knew R’ Meir Shapiro’s nephew, R’ Dov Shapiro. At that time, he was a bachur and a talmid in the yeshiva. He was one of the guides who explained the model.

One of the Polish newspapers described the model, “With a carving pen he etched the various buildings and offices, cubicles and towers, small turrets, pillars, gates and dividers, until slowly a small but very impressive structure was built.”

Setting up the model in the yeshiva was for the purpose of making it easier on the talmidim to understand those Gemaras and commentaries that discuss the Mikdash in detail and its laws. “Placing the model in the heart of the yeshiva was an expression of the longing that always burned in the heart of our rebbi [R’ Shapiro] for the building of the Beis HaBechira and the complete Geula and his strong desire to instill this awareness in the hearts of his students and the entire nation,” wrote an author of a book about R’ Meir Shapiro.

Another unique model was built by a young boy whose heart burned fiercely for the Geula even before he turned three. This boy was the Rebbe MH”M who built a model of the Mikdash for himself, according to testimony by R’ Yehuda Leib Horowitz who saw it when he visited R’ Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn in Nikolayev. Many years later, the Rebbe alluded to it when he said in a sicha that children can make a model of the Mikdash out of cardboard etc.

THE MODEL THAT WAS CONFISCATED BY THE NAZIS

A special model was made by R’ Elchanan Eybeshitz in 1933 in consultation with g’dolei Torah such as the Rogatchover Gaon, R’ Menachem Zemba, and R’ Meir Shapiro of Lublin. He even received two responses from the Rogatchover about the Beis HaMikdash, which praised him for intuiting the views of the greats. 

At the beginning of World War II, R’ Eybeshitz received a menacing visit by a German officer who demanded the model of the “military fortress.” Apparently, one of the neighbors reported that he had this model. R’ Eybeshitz told the officer that it wasn’t a military fortress but the Jewish temple that was in existence two thousand years earlier. This assuaged the Nazi officer but he still confiscated the model, promising that it would be sent to a museum. Since then, its whereabouts are unknown.

After miraculously surviving the war, R’ Eybeshitz began building a new model. He also published articles about the Mikdash in the Torah journal Sinai which was published by the Mosad HaRav Kook. His articles received the blessings of the Gerrer Rebbe, the Lev Simcha, who told him to continue his work on the Mikdash. He published Ha’bayis HaSheini B’Tifarto which is a collection of his articles.

THE HOLYLAND MODEL

Perhaps the most famous model of the Beis HaMikdash is the 1:50 scale model measuring 2,000 square meters (21,520 square feet) which was commissioned in 1966 by Mr. Hans Kroch, the owner of the Holyland Hotel, in memory of his son, Yaakov, an IDF soldier who was killed in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. He bought the entire hill where his son was killed and built the hotel and model there. 

The model was designed by Israeli historian and geographer Michael Avi Yonah based on the writings of Flavius Josephus and other historical sources, and with help from Professor Yoram Tzafrir of the Archaeological Institute of Hebrew University. It uses mainly the same materials as the original: marble, copper and iron, stone and wood. 

The model was moved from its original location at the Holyland Hotel in Bayit VeGan, Jerusalem, to a new site at the Israel Museum in June 2006. In preparation for the move, the model was sawed into 1,000 pieces and later reassembled. The Holyland Hotel spent $3.5 million on the move. 

The model does not precisely match all the halachic details of the Beis HaMikdash but it has been visited by millions of Jews over the past many decades. The model enables people to get a glimpse not only of the Beis HaMikdash but of Yerushalayim of yesteryear. 

THE MODEL IN THE KOSEL TUNNELS

The model most accurately depicting the Beis HaMikdash is the most special model of all, the one located at the Kosel tunnels, opposite the Holy of Holies. R’ Zalman Koren designed it and Avi Kedar built it. It was inaugurated on 28 Iyar 5751. 

R’ Koren wrote a book B’Chatzros Beis Hashem in which he discusses the boundaries of the Temple Mount, the courtyards, the location of the altar and the location of the Holy of Holies. In 5738, the author received a letter from the Rebbe, “I am in receipt of your letter along with your book, many thanks.” 

His model includes not only the Beis HaMikdash but the entire Temple Mount area as we know it today. The model is fifty meters by fifty meters. Visitors are excited when they can “touch” the holiness of the place as they stand so close to where the Mikdash actually was. The feeling is that here, in this very place, the third Beis HaMikdash will soon be built.

“The difficulties I had to deal with in designing the model weren’t simple,” said R’ Koren to Beis Moshiach. “Although I described the form and measurements in my book, writing about it was nothing compared to the difficulty in actually making the model when you need to know how to translate every detail into a practical reality. That’s an altogether different story.”

R’ Koren has been lecturing about the Mikdash for decades and is considered one of the top lecturers on the subject. He acquired his obsession for his subject from his grandfather, R’ Yisroel Zev Horowitz, who also did a great deal of research on the Mikdash.

NOT JUST THE MIKDASH BUT THE PRIESTLY CLOTHING TOO

At Machon HaMikdash (The Temple Institute) in Yerushalayim, there is a beautiful model which was made by the artist, Michoel Osnis of the former Soviet Union.

Osnis’ personal story is fascinating. He saw himself several times in a dream in a time machine which took him back 2000 years to the Beis HaMikdash. This is what got him interested in the subject. First, he made an imprecise model just as a hobby. Then he connected with Machon HaMikdash and with their guidance he created a large, beautiful model made according to the views of the Tiferes Yisroel and the Tosfos Yom Tov. It is permanently on display.

It took nine months to make the model. It measures two meters by one meter and includes the azara and the Mikdash. It is made of costly materials including gold plate in various places and marble. It weighs several hundred kilos and is in a glass case. The model is near the rest of the temple vessels and priestly clothing that the Machon has commissioned, all ready for the third Beis HaMikdash. 

In addition, Machon HaMikdash produced a three-dimensional virtual tour of the Mikdash on CD. You can take a virtual tour of the Mikdash, the azara and the lishkos, “meet” with Kohanim and even peek into the Holy of Holies. The only thing missing is the fragrant smell of the korbanos.

To be continued

 

THE MODEL THE REBBE RECEIVED AS A GIFT

In 5752, the Rebbe was brought the handcrafted model made by Ofer Nadav of Sydney, Australia. The model was built based on the Rambam. The Rebbe kept the model and gave a dollar for tz’daka and said, “Thank you for your gift.”  

On the model is a sign which says, “For the Admur shlita, who will build the Mikdash in its place and who stands on the roof of the Beis HaMikdash and says to the Jewish people, humble ones – the time for your redemption has arrived. Ofer Nadav, Sydney, Australia.”

The model arrived with the bachurim who were shluchim to Sydney and the Rebbe also gave them a dollar for helping out.

 

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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