Terumah: Cleaning Up the Mount Before Building the Temple

The parasha tell us “and you shall make Me a sanctuary, and I shall dwell amongst them”. Simply put, we should be talking about the building of the Beit HaMikdash during this class. Today, religious Jews have come up with all kinds of reasons (excuses?) why we shouldn’t build the Temple: It will come from the heavens, or the Messiah will build it, we are not yet worthy, there are no Cohenim, etc….

Each camp has its own special reason. Despite this problem, I will not refute these arguments in this shiur, because as it says on the schedule, the topic of this class is: “Cleaning up the Mount before Building the Temple”. Because I believe that with all the importance there is in building the Temple and refuting the aforementioned claims, the most BASIC and real obstacle to building the Temple today is the existence of the Arab mosques and Waqk. That is what scares people away; that is what makes the concept of building the Temple sound like some far-fetched pipe-dream. Sure, the Temple seems like a distant fantasy because its been absent for 2,000 years and the offering of sacrifices is so removed from us. But what really makes it difficult to take the building of the Temple seriously is the fact that we know how problematic that place is. The place where the Temple is supposed to stand is the most problematic place in the entire world. This is the problem we run away from.

There is a concept in Judaism, “Sur Me Ra, Ase Tov” (Remove evil, do good). Last week, for Parashat Mishpatim, we discussed the strict prohibition of appearing before courts that carry out gentile law, and we discussed how the Supreme Court spearheads the Hellenist front. People say that the solution is a Sanhedrin. But that is not a real solution. The real solution is to first undercut the Israeli Supreme Court. After all, what are we going to do – serve a petition to the Supreme Court to establish a Sanhedrin? Of course the problem is a powerful and aggressive Israeli Supreme Court and judiciary system, which many people, including religious Jews find great favor with, unfortunately. And so, saying, “we must establish a Sanhedrin” is no answer. The REAL obstacle to the Sanhedrin and any Jewish content in our country is this all-powerful institution called the Supreme Court of Israel. You won’t convince anyone by saying, “establish a Sanhedrin”. It will always remain in the realm of abstract, far off – because there already exists another well-oiled judiciary mechanism, which is the utter antithesis to a Sanhedrin.

All the moreso when discussing the Temple. We say, “we must build the Temple”. But it is a fantasy when you have the very antithesis to it standing in its place. The problem is that people have difficulty dealing with the “negative” aspects. They like to do the “positive” aspects, as we have mentioned before regarding the building of settlements. People want to build settlements, but don’t want to deal with the “negative” aspect of the mitzvah of settling the land, which is the expulsion of the goyim. In similar fashion, people like to establish Temple Institutes and to show the beauty of the Temple vessels, and to give the feeling of the splendor and importance of the Temple. Of course this should be done – but if ONLY this is done, there is no way we will make it a reality. First, you must take care of the problem. That’s “Sur Me Ra, Ase Tove”. It is like doing surgery – you have to cut. There is blood and it is messy – so people choose to skirt the issue.But we must do it – we have no choice.

We must deal with the desecration that takes place up there. After the “shiur” you will see a shocking video from “Chai ViKayam” which shows the shocking reality of the Temple Mount situation. It is a must see. Every rabbi should see it. Unfortunately most rabbis will say that videos and TV’s are “impure”. The problem is that we worry about the small “impurities”, and forget about the big “impurities” (like on the Temple Mount)

It says in the Zohar, Parashat VaYetze: “Rebbe Zera went to meet with R. Elazar, and saw him crying. Rebbi Zera asked the shamash of R. Elazar, ‘why does he sit and cry’? The “shamash” said: ‘twice I tried to get near him to find out, but I couldn’t’. They saw R. Elazar leave his place of learning and crying on his way home. Rebbe Zera heard R. Elazar say: ‘The stone, the stone. The holy and loftiest stone – the nations of the world, in the future, will degrade you and put loathsome idols on top of you to defile your holy place. Oy for the world, oy for that time, oy for that generation!'”

We are talking about the “evin hashtiya”, the foundation stone in the Temple on which the arc stood. The Zohar continues: “R Elazar sat down, and Rebbe Zera asked his “shamash”: ‘Go ask him if I can see him’. The shamash entered and said, ‘Rebbe Zera is here’. R. Elazar did not react. After a little while, he said, ‘let R Zera enter, and you sit outside’. Rebbe Zera entered. He prostrated himself before him. R. Elazar kicked him and said, ‘arise from your bowing and sit regular’. He sat in his usual manner. Rebbe Zera asked him: ‘what were you crying about?’ He said, ‘On a great tragedy that will take place. I saw that the holy stone from which the world was created; the stone which Yaakov’s head rested upon, and on which the Almighty built His House upon for the Divine Presence to rest – I saw that on this stone, it is destined in the future to be degraded by the nations, and upon it will be their corpses. Who won’t cry? Oy to the world, oy to that time, oy to that generation.

” We are talking about the impurity (“tooma”) on the place of our holiest site. We know that the Temple Mount today has indeed become a cemetary for the Arab corpses. Abdullah, king of Jordan is buried there. The flag of Jordan waves on the Temple Mount. In short, they have deliberately put a lot of “tooma” there. Throughout history, the forces of “tooma” have been attracted to the Temple Mount. After the Bar Cochba rebellion, Hadrian built a temple for idols; the Christians and the Muslims afterwards. Our sages didn’t just cry about the “churban” (destruction), but they also cry about the foreign intruders and impurities which permeate the area.

In Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam brings down that we are forbidden to plant trees on the Temple Mount, even if it is for beautifying the area. Today we know that the area is full of trees and grass, so that the Arabs can have their picnics. When David fought the wars of Israel, he conquered areas outside of Israel (Aram Zova and Aram Naharayim), but neglected the Yevusites in Jerusalem. The Sifri says: “The area of My palace you didn’t conquer, and you go and fight Aram Zova?”. But David DID conquer Jerusalem, as we see in Shmuel Bet, so why is Hashem saying he didn’t conquer it? But the answer is that he left the Yevusites “autonomy”. Despite the fact that the Yevusites were resident strangers, it was not considered conquering them, because he left them with self-rule on the Temple Mount. It is like today, where we build and build on the outskirts, but “near My palace, you didn’t conquer”.

If we don’t talk about the need to remove the disgrace, we arrive at absurd conclusions. Here is an article by someone who suggests building the Temple in the area of the Kotel. He says this will “neutralize the hostility” between the nations. All this is a symptom of the sickness of not talking about the mosques. It’s not nice to talk about dismantling them, or blowing them up, or moving them. But their presence is what deters most people from thinking about building the Temple. Here is another idea written here: We needn’t dismantle the mosques, but rather we can have a kind of dual-condiminium concept – maybe build the Temple on the second floor of the mosque…(laughter) All this stems from the sickness that we don’t want a confrontation. So we have the hugest contradiction in the world: the holiest site contains the greatest “tooma”. So we evade the issue. If you don’t settle problems and contradictions, the results are absurd and ridiculous ideas. We see this in all areas of life here. My father wrote an entire book on the subject called, “Koo-Koo Land”, to depict the insanity. Today, the situation is much worse.

As I researched through the articles on the Temple Mount, I asked myself: what happened to all that awakening which had been taking place ten years ago in regard to ascending Har HaBayit, etc. There had been the beginning of a real awakening in the subject. Chai ViKayam had been going up, breaking through. Others were going up.. What happenend to it all. Why has it faded? People go up the Mount still, but less than before. But there is no progress. When Chai ViKayam started, they had an intention to force the issue much further, but things got stuck, everything is stuck…

Question: But we must go up still, it helps..

Kahane: I say that as a rule, ascending the Mount through degradation won’t help us. People should go up the Temple Mount, if that’s all there is, people should do it. But I think that such activities won’t light the fire, won’t elevate, or have any revolutionary impact. This goes for all the activities taking place on the national front. Everything is stuck. For twenty years we have had the “Aliyot” to the Mount, and there is no progress. Therefore, we must contemplate why.

I say that we are not in the galut, and we can’t act as if we are. To go up to the Temple Mount, to present our Tiudat Zehut, to be frisked, to be escorted by the Waqk – it’s a degradation! We already supposedly passed the stage of degradation. We are not supposed to be a generation of degradation. Though we are, it is not supposed to be. The Almighty returned us to Eretz Yisrael in order to blot out the desceration of His Name. And the Beit HaMikdash won’t be built via degradation. The State of Israel wasn’t established through degradation, but through mighty heroism and self-sacrifice of Jews who fought and fell on Kiddush Hashem. Beit Mikdash can’t be built through anything less. It won’t be built via “understandings” with the Waqf, which is the plan of many mistaken Jews. It just doesn’t go together.

Question: What’s the alternative?

Kahane: That’s a big question. The alternative is mighty deeds, Kiddush Hashem. I know the alternative. I’m not leveling complaits against anyone.

But we must know that there is a lack of self-sacrifice today, and I know that even being one of the few who ascend the Mount under the present conditions is self-sacrifice, too. But it’s not enough. The Almighty demands a great deal more of us. This is why everything that has been tried up to now has not worked – Hashem is not letting it work, because he wants greater “msirut nefesh”. I’m not better than anyone else, but this is how I understand the realities of the situation…

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