July 12, 2017
Rabbi Gershon Avtzon in #1076, Bein HaMeitzarim, Beis HaMikdash, Ha’yom Yom & Moshiach

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

This Shabbos, Parshas Pinchas, is the first Shabbos of the Three Weeks. During this time we focus on the Beis HaMikdash. The Rebbe writes in HaYom Yom (21 Tammuz): “It is written: ‘They shall make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell among them’ — that is, within each and every Jew. For the innermost point of every Jewish heart is a Sanctuary in which G-d can abide. Now, the site of the Beis HaMikdash remains sacred even in the period of exile and desolation. As is written in Shmos Rabba, Chapter 2, ‘Rav Acha declared: The Divine Presence will never depart from the Western Wall.’ The desolation relates to the buildings alone.

“The same applies to the personal Sanctuary within the heart of every Jew. The foundation [always] remains intact, unpolluted and pure, as it is written, ‘I am asleep, but my heart is awake.’ On these words, Midrash Rabba comments: ‘I am asleep from the mitzvos, but my heart is awake to acts of kindness. I am asleep from acts of charity, but my heart is awake to do them.’ The whole concept of desolation among the Jewish people, Heaven forbid, applies only [to superficial matters], like the buildings that stand above the foundation; the foundation of the personal Sanctuary remains holy.”

This concept, that even in destruction the essence of the Beis HaMikdash remains intact, we see in the following halacha in Rambam (Hilchos Beis HaBechira 4:1): “The Ark was placed on a stone in the western portion of the Holy of Holies. The vial of manna and Aharon’s staff were placed before it.

“When Shlomo HaMelech built the Temple, he was aware that it would ultimately be destroyed. [Therefore,] he constructed a chamber, in which the ark could be entombed below [the Temple building] in deep, maze-like vaults.

“King Hoshea commanded that [the Ark] be entombed in the chamber built by Solomon, as it is said (II Chronicles 35:3): ‘And he said to the Levites who would teach wisdom to all of Israel: Place the Holy Ark in the chamber built by Solomon, the son of David, King of Israel. You will no [longer] carry it on your shoulders. Now, serve the L-rd, your G-d.’

“When it was entombed, Aharon’s staff, the vial of manna, and the oil used for anointing were entombed with it. All these [sacred articles] did not return in the Second Temple.”

The Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 21 page 156) asks: The Rambam is not a history book. It is a seifer of Halacha. Since this is so, what is to be learned from a Halachic perspective from the fact that the Aron was hidden?

The Rebbe explains (Ibid 159): By giving us this description of the original building of the Beis HaMikdash, the Rambam is teaching us something very important. Even according to the original plan there are two places fitting to house the Aron! The first is the Kodesh HaKadashim and the second is the specially-built tunnel.

This leads to another fascinating point: We all know that the Aron was not present in the second Beis HaMikdash. If so, seemingly, the heart of the Beis HaMikdash, which brings the K’dusha of Hashem to the Beis HaMikdash and the world, was missing! Based on this explanation in the Rambam, it is clear that even in the second Beis HaMikdash the Aron was in its proper, alternate, place.

We can learn a tremendous lesson from this. Even though, we are suffering in the current Galus and the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed, the Aron (which is the heart of the Beis HaMikdash) remains in its proper place. This is similar to what the Rebbe writes in the HaYom Yom regarding the K’dusha of the Beis HaMikdash and the Neshama of a Yid, that it always remains intact.

We mentioned in our previous article the special directive of the Rebbe to build the Beis HaMikdash by learning about the Beis HaMikdash in the Three Weeks. It is not a time to merely mourn the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash; we need to use the tools that are at our disposal to build the Beis HaMikdash.

We all know the story of Yosef and his brothers. His brothers were jealous of him and they sold him to Egypt where miraculously he became the viceroy of the country. At the end of the story, all of B’nei Yisroel came down to Egypt and Yosef provided for them. One of the most emotional moments of the saga is Yosef’s embracing his brother Binyamin upon the revelation of his identity to his brothers.

The Torah tells us (VaYigash 45:14): “And he fell on his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept, and Binyamin wept on his neck.” Now, it is expected that two brothers that do not have a mother and only share each other would cry when they finally meet after so many years of separation. Yet, Rashi gives us a deeper reason for their tears:

And he fell on his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept: For the two sanctuaries which were destined to be in Binyamin’s territory and would ultimately be destroyed. And Binyamin wept on his neck: For the Mishkan of Shiloh, which was destined to be in Yosef’s territory yet would ultimately be destroyed.” (Megillah 16b, B’Reishis Rabba 93:12)

The obvious question is: If each brother had destruction in his territory, why did each not cry for himself? Why did each only cry for the other?

The Rebbe (Likkutei Sichos Vol. 10 pg. 146) explains: Crying doesn’t stop destruction; it only helps deal with the pain that the destruction brings. Crying soothes us and makes us complacent. When one has destruction in his own territory, he cannot allow himself the luxury of crying; he must stop the destruction and begin construction. Soldiers will tell you that they only cried for their friends who were killed at their side when the battle was over. During the battle, there is no time or capacity for tears, as the battle must be fought and won.

This is why Yosef did not cry for his own loss but only cried for Binyamin’s loss, and vice versa. Over their own Beis HaMikdash that was being destroyed they weren’t allowed to cry; they had to rebuild! Only over a Beis HaMikdash which is “out of their territory,” and which they cannot fix and rebuild, can they cry.

This focus on rebuilding the Beis HaMikdash helps in all other aspects of our Avoda as well. This was discussed by the Rebbe (D’varim 5751) based on the words in Pirkei Avos, “Look at these three things and you will not come to an Aveira.”

The Rebbe explains: “An additional lesson and directive concerning Redemption can be derived also from the beginning of the third chapter of Pirkei Avos: ‘Look at three things:’

“The term ‘three things’ standing by itself can be a suggestion of the third Redemption and the third Holy Temple, a threefold Redemption and a threefold Holy Temple, because they comprise the virtues of both the first Redemption and the second, and the first Temple and the second. Furthermore, the twosome features will be combined as one.

“The imperative, ‘Look,’ implies gazing intently, by deeply reflecting and contemplating matters concerning the third Redemption and the third Beis HaMikdash (‘three things’), imbued with feelings of anticipation and exceptional yearning, ‘I anticipate his coming every day,’ implying that he will come every day, this day, literally. How much more so, now that we stand on the threshold of Redemption, that the gazing at these three matters is increased and done with more vigor.

“The suggestion can be made that the one’s reflection on matters of the third Redemption and third Holy Temple (‘three matters’) has the capacity to effect completeness to all of our efforts within the ‘three pillars’ – the three modes of expression, Torah, service (prayer) and loving-kindness – whose fulfillment is through the three garments of the soul, thought, speech and action. When one’s thoughts are directed towards the three redemptions, one’s Divine service is unbounded and therefore beyond division. Without the limits and boundaries which delineate and divide, one attains perfection in all of the three modes.”

In a footnote, the Rebbe adds: “In a similar vein, with regard to ‘keeping from evil’ one is precluded from evil, as a matter of course, without a need to actively engage in negating evil, as the Mishna continues: ‘And you will not come to the hands of sin.’ The expression ‘and you will not come’ implies that it will not take effort. The usage of the term ‘hands of sin’ implies further that even matters that are not inherently sinful, but could lead to sin (such as satisfying permissible desires), are automatically dismissed because of one’s reflection on matters of Redemption. This is analogous to the way things will be in the Messianic Era. As the Rambam rules (in the end and seal of his work Mishna Torah) that ‘in that time … all delights will be as abundant as the dust of the earth.’ His choice of the word ‘dust’ implies that it will have no significance to us, inasmuch as ‘all of the preoccupation of the world will be exclusively to know G-d.’”

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought-after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at


Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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