Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Adar 5761 - February 28, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
"And He Established Them Forever More"

by L. Jungerman

"Acacia trees standing -- that endure everlastingly, forevermore" (Midrash).

In Yalkut Shimoni, Divrei Hayomim (1:1085), Chazal say that Hashem transmitted the charter of the Beis Hamikdosh to Moshe Rabbenu while standing, as it is written, "And you shall stand here with Me." Moshe transmitted it to Yehoshua while standing and Yehoshua, in turn, transmitted it to the Elders in standing position. The Elders stood while transmitting it to the prophets and Dovid stood as he transmitted it to his son, Shlomo.

HaGaon R' Mordechai Ilan zt'l wove and reworked the `raw material' of this idea of the standing transmission of the founding charter of the Beis Hamikdosh, which was, actually, a condition to its very establishment.

We find this standing position describing the Jewish people and the Torah. Yeshaya says, "For just as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall stand before Me, says Hashem, so shall your seed and your name endure" (66:22). Midrash Psikta Zutresa Parshas Nitzovim states, "Therefore is it said: `And You established before You forever,' in the same way that Moshe said to Yisroel, `You are standing today, all of you.'

"Said Moshe to Yisroel: So long as you are doing the will of Hashem, you shall [with]stand and exist.' This standing characterizes the difference between Yisroel and the nations. "When Hashem surveys the deeds of the wicked, they cannot stand up, but Yisroel -- even when they fall, they can stand up again" (Tanchuma Nitzovim).

The act of standing is also employed with relation to the giving of the Torah. When Yisroel received the Torah, "They stood at the foot [or, homiletically, under] the mountain" and when Moshe Rabbenu received the Torah, he said: "I am standing between Hashem and you."

The Jewish people, its Torah and its sanctuary are intertwined and cohered like a triply twined thread that defies cutting. This rope is fortified by withstanding power.

And even though the Mikdosh is now destroyed, it continues to endure. In Yoma 39a it is told of an old man who said, "I once went to Shiloh and was able to smell the fragrance of the incense still lingering among the walls." R' Mordechai Ilan says: "The sense of smell is joined to the sources of a person's soul. Chazal ask: What is it that the soul is capable of deriving pleasure from -- and not the body? Smell! (Brochos 43). That old man had a finely developed sense of smell, in contrast to that of other people who are more affected by the outward appearances and external impressions of their other senses. They relegated the Mishkan in Shiloh to the past, veiled in holiness, in contrast to the old man who was able to visualize Shiloh with its sanctity intact and to internally reconstruct the holiness that was everlasting and would never evaporate. His soul was capable of spiritually enjoying the aroma of holiness that wafted and exuded from the Mishkan. He sensed the fragrance of the incense intact, clinging to walls that had lain waste for centuries. This is the standing and staying power of the House of Hashem -- that even in its ruins, it still exists before Hashem."

The Jews returning from Bovel to rebuild the Beis Hamikdosh were faced with the dilemma of locating the exact place where the mizbeiach had stood. How did they find it? "They saw the ashes of Yitzchok lying upon that site, or, alternately, smelled the aroma of incense and burnt sacrifices throughout the House" (Zevochim 62b).

Mt. Zion is laid in waste; foxes overrun it. But the spiritual eyes of the returned exiles of Bovel saw the ashes of Akeidas Yitzchok. Their deliverance from the pressured burden of the exile which dampens the spirit and stifles and kills the yearning for exalted life, rejuvenated their internal sense, enabling them to see and breathe the spiritually revitalizing atmosphere of the Beis Hamikdosh which was still `standing,' still intact, despite its having been laid waste. This visualization was grounded in the quality of that primeval light of Creation which enabled Odom Horishon to see from one end of the world to the other.

However, despite the fact that the `standing' of the Beis Hamikdosh is compared to the `standing' of the Jewish people, the latter is greater than the former, for the sanctity of the land and of the Mikdosh was disputed by the tanoim and amoroim: was it permanent and immutable, or conditional only to its actual existence in time? Was Yisroel's uniqueness in G-dly chosenness and favor everlasting, or only temporary and dependent upon certain conditions?

To be sure, the sanctity of the Jewish people transcends time and history. It is absolute. "You have chosen us" and "You have sanctified us" are integral, like the wick of a candle without which it cannot burn. With regards to the Mikdosh, we are taught the halochoh that infidels and vandals are capable of desecrating it.

But the sanctity of the Jewish people is inviolate. No infiltrators can invade our spiritual life and contaminate the inner altar of the people. A holy nation. While the sanctity of the Mikdosh which is imposed by man can be violated, the sanctity of the Jewish people, which is ordained by Hashem, can never be abolished.

This is comparable to the difference between Shabbos and the Festivals, the Shabbos being heaven-established as immutable and constant throughout all time, and the other, whose jurisdiction was transmitted to the power of beis din [to determine when they fall according to kiddush hachodesh, and is subject to change.

When the third Mikdosh is rebuilt, and may it be speedily and in our days, the truth of the standing endurance of the Jews and of its sanctuary will be revealed and reinstated, as was promised by Yechezkel (37), "And all the nations will know that I am Hashem, Who sanctifies Yisroel, when My sanctuary will be in your midst forever more!"

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