"Acacia trees standing -- that endure everlastingly,
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
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
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
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!"