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Islamic-Christian conference blasts Israel

by LISA PALMIERI-BILLIG 
Jerusalem Post Web Site

ROME (March 30) - An Islamic-Christian [ed: Roman Catholic] conference on Jerusalem held at Rome's Grand Mosque - the largest in Europe - concluded yesterday with an appeal by delegates against the "Judaization" of Jerusalem.

Israeli construction at Har Homa was the main point of contention in the two-day discussions. Khalil Tufakji, a building expert from the Society of Arab Studies, said when the project is completed, eastern Jerusalem will be isolated from the rest of the West Bank.

Hamid Ahmed Rifai, associate secretary of the Moslem World Congress, warned that Israel was losing a golden opportunity for peace by insisting on changing the demography of Jerusalem, "claiming the city as its eternal political and religious capital and intending to rebuild the Temple on the site of Al-Aksa Mosque."

The Vatican's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Monsignor Jean-Louis Tauran, received the conference delegates, who included politicians, academics, and religious leaders from the Vatican, Arab countries and Jerusalem. Messages of support were read from a number of Arab leaders, including the kings of Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

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IN THE NEWS (AND ALSO ON THE PARSHA)

HOLY COW!

The birth of a red heifer (cow) in a farm in the religious youth village of Kfar Hasidim (near Haifa) has excited sectors in the religious community. A delegation of some 25 experts, including Rabbis Yisrael Ariel and Yoseph Elboim, visited the farm last week to examine the six-month old cow, and concluded that it is in fact an acceptable red heifer, according to Torah requirements. However, the cow must be at least two years old before it can be used. Until then, the cow will be carefully watched to ensure that nothing occurs to invalidate its status. According to Biblical law, the cow's ashes are used for purification from certain forms of impurity, and is therefore a prerequisite for the renewal of Holy Temple service. (Arutz-7 News: Tuesday, March 18, 1997)

RED HEIFER SIGNALS THIRD TEMPLE

The birth of a red heifer in Israel is being hailed by religious Jews as a sign from God that work can soon begin on building the Third Temple in Jerusalem. A team of rabbinical experts last week confirmed that the animal, born six months ago on a religious kibbutz near the north Israeli port of Haifa, meets the correct Biblical criteria for a genuine holy cow. According to the Book of Numbers (XIX: 2-7), the animal is needed for an ancient Jewish purification ritual.

"Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke,"

says the fourth book of the Old Testament, also part of Jewish holy scripture, the Torah. The heifer will be slaughtered and burned, and its ashes made into a liquid paste and used in a ceremony which religious Jews believe they must undergo before they can enter the old Temple site in Jerusalem to start building a new structure.

Since Herod's Temple was destroyed by the Roman emperor Titus in AD 70, no flawless red heifer has been born within the biblical land of Israel, according to rabbinical teaching. The birth of the animal, to a black-and-white mother and a dun-colored bull, is being hailed as a "miracle" by activists who want to rebuild the Third Temple and prepare the way for the Jewish messiah's entry to Jerusalem.

The faithful will need to wait until the heifer is at least three before it can be used in a ritual sacrifice. That would enable religious Jews to start the new millennium (a Christian event, but still regarded as portentous) in a state of purity. News of the red heifer's appearance, however, will not be well received by Muslims. The site of the old Jewish temples in the Holy City is now occupied by one of Islam's holiest shrines, the Dome of the Rock. Jewish extremists want to destroy the Dome and the adjoining Al-Aqsa mosque to make way for a new temple. In 1985 a group of Jewish terrorists were jailed in Israel for planning to destroy the Dome with high explosives.

But Jewish activists say they regard it as their divine mission to build a new Temple. "We have been waiting 2,000 years for a sign from God, and now he has provided us with a red heifer," said Yehudah Etzion, the ringleader of the Eighties' plot to blow up the Dome, who was present at last week's inspection of the red heifer at Kfar Hassidim. "There were a couple of little white hairs which worried us, but the rabbis are satisfied that it is the red heifer referred to in the Bible," said Mr. Etzion. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (London) 3/16) (Quoted in THE MID-EAST DISPATCH, DAILY NEWS FROM ISRAEL - ISSUE 237 - 16th March 1997)

Noted Added from Christian Discussion Group: Of all the sacrifices offered under the Law of Moses there was none quite like the Red Heifer. In its limitations and parallels, the Red Heifer provides valuable insights into the redemption which God has provided in Christ Jesus. A study of the Red Heifer inevitably leads to a greater appreciation of the words of the Apostle Paul.

It was God Himself who chose to portray aspects of His great work of redemption through the Red Heifer. The writer to the Hebrews makes this apparent:

"For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. " ( Heb. 9:13,14, RSV).

The Red Heifer Its significance:

a) The significance of the sacrifice: The red heifer was a sacrifice designed to remove defilement through contact with human death. It is significant that the children of Israel had suffered the death of 14,700 rebellious Israelites by a plague (Num. 16:49 ). Under hot desert conditions the bodies would require immediate burial in graves. It was at this time that God gave the instructions to Moses and Aaron regarding the red heifer. The significance of the red heifer to cleanse from the defilement of death came at a most impressive time the connection between sin and death could hardly be more apparent!

b) The uniqueness of the sacrifice . In all of the sacrifices prescribed by the Mosaic Law, there was none quite like the red heifer. Note the following:

i. It is not listed with the other offerings in Leviticus or Exodus, but in the book of Numbers.

ii. It was a special sin offering. A sin offering was for a sin - i. e., a transgression, but the red heifer was a sin offering when no transgression had been committed. It was offered for contact with the dead whether purposeful or accidental.

iii. It was a sin offerings but it was not offered in the same way as the other sin offerings. The animal was slaughtered outside the camp, and the blood and the skin and the dung were all burned outside the camp. In the other sin offerings ( e. g. Lev. 4 ) the animal was slain inside the camp, the blood poured out at the base of the altar, and then the carcase was removed and burned outside the camp.

iv. It was the only sacrifice which could be used more than once. Its ashes were used repeatedly until depleted.

The instructions regarding the Red Heifer were given immediately after the plague in which 14, 700 Israelites died. The association between sin and death was apparent. The nation was to bring the heifer, therefore it was a national offering. When the Lord returns, Ezekiel 39 tells us that it is going to take seven months to bury the dead bodies. Thus it would seem that the latter day offering of a Red Heifer by the Messiah will be to provide cleansing for the nation as they work at cleansing their land from all the dead bodies in it. (Thanks to Larry Ellison, lellison@concentric.net)

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YESHA RABBIS SUPPORT TEMPLE MOUNT PRAYER

The Council of Yesha Rabbis has issued a call to "all rabbis who permit it" to encourage their congregants and students to visit the Temple Mount. This is the first time that the Council has taken such a position. Rabbi Daniel Shilo of the Council explained that in light of the recent Arab moves to eradicate all Jewish presence on the Mount, and their increased presence there, and their turning of Solomon's Stables into a mosque, it has become more urgent to make the Jewish presence felt there. He said that for the last few months, the Council had been attempting to remedy the scene with "quiet, behind-the-scenes" activities, but that they did not bear fruit. The Council statement emphasized that the ascent to the Mount must be made with the proper Halachic preparations, and only to the permitted areas. (Arutz-7 News: Tuesday, February 18, 1997)

TEMPLE FEAST

Nearly 1000 people participated in a unique dinner last night in honor of the Jerusalem Temple and Jewish presence on the Temple Mount. Samples of music and instruments that may have been sounded by the Levites in the Temple were played, and speakers described how Jews would ascend to the Temple with their sacrifices. Rabbi Dov Lior explained that many rabbis permit the ascent to the Temple Mount even now, after proper halachic preparations have been made (ritual immersion, knowing the permitted locations, etc.). MK Rabbi Benny Elon bemoaned the fact that the Temple Mount is effectively not under our control. He said, "How can we not cry when we hear the police cheerfully report on the Moslem Ramadan prayers at the site of our Holy Temple?"

Announcing a new web site: 

Machon HaMikdash (The Temple Institute) http://www.temple.org.il

New: 1. The Temple Institute has a sample Mizbeach (altar) for Kohanim to practice going up on. 2. A Red Heifer was born in Kefar Hassidim.

The Institute for Temple Studies, Exhibition of Temple Vessels, Yeshivat Bet Habehira, and Beit Hauman Ha'ivri are found on the above web pages. Find out about the latest developments about what is being done to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash and order books about the Beit HaMikdash.

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REBUILDING OF THE BEIT HAMIKDASH 
AND THE COMING OF MASHIACH

by Rav Hayim Yisrael Shteiner

(originally published Yibane HaMikdash, issue 110)


I. IS THE STUDY OF THE COMING OF MASHIACH A SUBJECT FOR SERIOUS STUDY?
The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Maimonides) in his introduction to "HaChelek" (the last chapter in Tractate Sanhedrin) enumerates thirteen fundamentals, the twelfth being the coming of Mashiach (David King, Messianic redeemer). In "Hilchot Teshuva" (Laws of Repentance) 9:2, "Hilchot Melachim" (Laws of Kings) chapters 11-12, and in "Igeret Teiman" (Yemenite Letter) he wrote in great length regarding the details of the events of that era and the mitzvah (commandment) to believe in Mashiach and wait for his coming. Implied from such a lengthy explanation is that we should study it in detail in order to fulfill the principal, "I believe with complete faith in the coming of Mashiach, and even though he may tarry, I will wait for him every day to come."

Contrary to this, the Rambam himself instructs us to lessen our dealing with this subject. In "Hilchot Melachim" 12:2, he brings down a dispute regarding the order of events. There is a biblical verse (Malachi 3:23) that states that Eliyahu will come "before the Great and Awesome Day of Hashem." This day is the day of the war of Gog and Magog. The dispute is whether Mashiach arrives before Eliyahu comes (as the Rambam concludes) or if Eliyahu arrives first, awaiting Mashiach and the war of Gog and Magog. The Rambam continues:

People will not understand these and related ideas until they happen, and they are hidden by the prophets. The Sages also do not have a tradition in these ideas but decided by weighing the biblical verses. Therefore, there is dispute about these things. In any case the order of events is not a principle of our religion ... One should not make these things the main thing, as their study does not bring fear and love of G-d, and one should also not calculate the end.

The Radbaz also writes on this: "Since these things do not effect Halacha (Jewish Law), AND DO NOT UPHOLD A PRINCIPLE OF FAITH, it is not proper to be exacting in them, as Our Rabbi writes. However, if he tarries wait for him because he will surely come, and he will reveal the hidden things.

It appears that the Rambam's restriction is only going on the order of events-Eliyahu, Mashiach, and the War of Gog and Magog, which are subject to dispute. But the belief in the coming of Mashiach includes all the components that THE RAMBAM HIMSELF DEALT WITH AT LENGTH, which are: the role of Mashiach, the essence of the Days of Mashiach, the mitzvah to await his coming, the explanation why Mashiach has not yet come, identifying and certifying Mashiach, and related topics. Similarly, one should deal with subjects about the Beit HaMikdash and its rebuilding, included the question of whether the mitzvah of building it applies before Mashiach comes.

Here, we will deal with some of these topics, especially the connection between Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, based on words of the great rabbis of the generations.


II. THE REDEMPTION OF "I WILL SPEED IT UP" CAN COME ANY DAY
In the Talmud (Rosh HaShannah 11b), there is a disagreement as to which month the Jewish people will be redeemed-according to Rabbi Eliezer in Tishrei, and according to Rabbi Yehoshua in Nissan. The "Turei Even" commentary finds this difficult because another passage in the Talmud (Eruvin 43b) states, [if someone says] "I am a nazir from the day that the Son of David comes, he is permitted to drink wine on Shabbat and holidays but prohibited on weekdays." How can every weekday be fit for Mashiach to come if the Redemption is to take place in Nissan or Tishrei?

In his book "Gevurot Ari", he also asks from the Talmudic passage (Ta'anit 17a) that brings down an opinion that Kohanim are forbidden to drink wine, since the Beit HaMikdash can be rebuilt any day, so he should be ready to perform the Temple Service (which requires the Kohen not to be intoxicated). If the Redemption will only take place in Nissan or Tishrei, why should the Kohen be prohibited from drinking wine the entire year?

He resolves the contradiction between the passage in Tractate Rosh HaShannah and the passage in Tractate Eruvin in the "Turei Even" based on the Talmudic passage (Sanhedrin 98a) that quotes the Biblical verse (Yeshaya 60:22), "In its time, I will speed it up." Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi says, if the Jewish People deserve, "I will speed it up"; If they do not deserve it, the redemption will only come "in its time". According to him, the dispute of whether the redemption will occur in Tishrei of Nissan deals only with the redemption "in its time", but the redemption of "I will speed it up" is possible any day. Therefore, if someone takes upon himself to be a nazir on the day that the Son of David comes, he is forbidden to drink wine every weekday, since the Son of David could come every day in the situation of "I will speed it up". (See also the Chatam Sofer's responsa collection "Likutei Shut Chatam Sofer" section 98.)

In his book "Gevurot Ari", he resolves the contradiction between the Talmudic passages in Tractates Rosh HaShannah and Ta'anit in two ways: The first is just like he resolved the previous contradiction, that since in a situation of "I will speed it up", the redemption can take place any day, a Kohen is prohibited from drinking wine every day in order that he should always be ready to perform the Temple service.



III. THE REBUILDING OF THE BEIT HAMIKDASH 
WILL PROCEED THE DAVIDIC KINGDOM
The Jerusalem Talmud's opinion

The second answer, which the author of the "Gevurot Ari" preferes, is based on a passage in the Jerusalem Talmud (Ma'aser Sheni 5:2) The Mishnah states Rabbi Yose's opinion regarding the rabbinic injunction not to redeem kerem reva'i (grapes of the fourth year of the vine, automatically sanctified to be eaten only in Jerusalem and in purity unless redeemed) within a radius of one day's journey from Jerusalem, but to bring the fruit itself to Jerusalem, in order to adorn Jerusalem's markets. When the volume of fruits increased, the injunction was canceled, and people were once again allowed to redeem the fruit even right outside Jerusalem, but the Rabbis stipulated that, when the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt, the original injunction will again be in force. The Jerusalem Talmud states: "Rav Acha says, this implies that the Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt before the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, as it is stated, (Davarim 32:14) 'and thou didst drink wine of the pure blood of the grape' and you say when." (see the Ridbaz's explanation, brought down by the students of the Vilna Gaon) Implied in Rabbi Yose's words, that when the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt there will be reason to renew the original injunction because there will be a lack of fruits, it is possible to prove that the Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt before the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, since once the Davidic Kingdom is restored, there will be enough fruits, as it is stated, "and thou didst drink wine of the pure blood of the grape," and they will no longer need to make injunctions for supply of fruit. On this line, he writes in "Gevurot Ari" that the dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua on the timing of the redemption is dealing with the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, but the Beit HaMikdash can be rebuilt any day, and that is why a Kohen cannot drink wine the entire year.

According to this explanation, the difference between "In its time" and "I will speed it up" only applies to the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, but the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, which will proceed it, is not tied to this differentiation and can happen any day, even if the Davidic Kingdom is renewed "in its time".

The Jerusalem Talmud's opinion that the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash will proceed the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom is also apparent in the Babylonian Talmud, (Megilla 17b), where it explains why the blessing "Bone Yerushalyim" (who rebuilds Jerusalem) proceeds the blessing "Et tzemach David Avdecha Mehera Tatzmiach" (speedily renew the Davidic Kingdom). "Once Jerusalem is rebuilt, David will come, as it is stated, (Hoshea 3:5) 'After the Jewish People return, the will seek Hashem their G-d and David their King.' Rashi explains, "after they will return to the Beit HaMikdash, they will seek Hashem their G-d and David their King." The term "Jerusalem" here also refers to the Beit HaMikdash, as we see in Brachot 29a in the wording of the Abbreviated Prayer parallel to the Eighteen Benedictions: "Veyismechu tzadikim bevinyan irecha UVETIKUN HEICHALECHA uvitzemichat keren ledavid avdecha uva'arichat ner leven yish'ai meshichecha" (The righteous shall rejoice in the rebuilding of Your City and fixing of Your Sanctuary and restoring the horn of David Your Servant and the setting of the candle for the son of Yish'ai Your Anointed." Thus, it is explicit that the Beit HaMikdash will be built before the Davidic Kingdom.

The Tosafot Yomtov (Ma'aser Sheni 5:2 "Utenai...") concludes, like the Jerusalem Talmud, that the Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt before the Davidic Kingdom. The Malbim also writes (on Daniel 12), relying on historical facts:

It is known that permission was given from the Ceaser to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash in Jerusalem, and it was built by the Jew by order of Julius Ceaser at a great expense. And in the year 4349 (589 ce) there was an uproar throughout the world, and the Beit HaMikdash that they built fell, and the next day a great fire came from Heaven and melted all metal in the building, and many Jews were burnt."

Additionally, Rav Kook writes in his article on Zionism (printed also in "Otzrot HaReiya", vol. II, p. 929) "The words of Our Sages instruct in an endless number of sources, and it is explicit in the famous piece from the Jerusalem Talmud in Ma'aser Sheni, 'this implies that the Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt before the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom.'" He also writes in "Mishpat Kohen", section 94, after he discusses the possible problem in rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash in present times, "In any event, according to my humble opinion, if there will be a desire that we rebuild the Beit HaMikdash, even BEFORE MASHIACH COMES, and prophecy will be revealed and they will see wonders, there will not be such an obstacle."

The Opinion of the Babylonian Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin

It appears at first glance that according to the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 20b), the Beit HaMikdash will be built after the restoration of the Davidic Kingdom, since according to the Talmudic passage there, the order that Rabbi Yose chooses in a Braita is:

"The Jewish people were commanded three mitzvot to perform when they entered the Land:

1. To appoint a king

2. To eradicate the descendants of Amalek

3. To build the Beit HaMikdash"

The order is specific: King, Amalek, Beit HaMikdash. Thus, the Rambam rules in Hilchot Melachim 1:2, "Appointing a king proceeds the war of Amalek ... and eradicating the descendants of Amalek proceeds building the Beit HaMikdash ..."

The Rambam also writes, (ibid. 11:1) "The Melech HaMashiach will restore the Kingdom of David to its original rule and BUILD THE BEIT HAMIKDASH and gather the Jewish exiles."

In halacha 4, reiterates:

"If a King from the House of David, understanding the Torah and performing mitzvot like David his father, according to the Written and Oral Torah, will arise and force all Jews to live by it and to finance it and fight the Wars of Hashem, he is assumed to be Mashiach. If he succeeds and builds the Beit HaMikdash in its place and gather the Jewish exiles, he is definitely the Mashiach."

It is perplexing that those mentioned above (the author of the "Gevurot Ari", Tosafot Yomtov, the Malbim, and Rav Kook) rely on the Jerusalem Talmud against the ruling of the Rambam, who rules like the Babylonian Talmud, that a apppointing king proceeds the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.

Additionally, it is problematic that the Jerusalem Talmud is based on Rabbi Yose's statement in the Mishnah. From his words, Rav Acha deduces that the Beit HaMikdash will be built before the Davidic Kingdom, and in the Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Yose is the one that says that three mitzvot were commanded, and the mitzvah appointing a king proceeds the mitzvah of building the Beit HaMikdash.

The Rambam's ruling is also problematic, since he usually decides like the Jerusalem Talmud(1), so why does he decide like the Babylonian Talmud here? Furthermore, if building the Beit HaMikdash is just for Mashiach to do, why does the Rambam write in length eight chapters in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah about constructing the Beit HaMikdash? Furthermore, why does the Rambam omit this important detail in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah? On the contrary, the Rambam includes in the mitzvah of "and let them make me a sanctuary" (Shmot 25:8) all the Temples built throughout the generations, which WERE NOT BUILT BY THE DAVIDIC KINGDOM (except for the First Temple in Jerusalem).

To the discussion of Mashiach mentioned above, the Rambam adds (Hilchot Melachim 11:1):

"Anyone who does not believe in him or does not await his coming not only denies other prophets, but denies the prophecy of Moshe Rabeneinu, as the Torah testifies of him, as is stated, (Devarim 30:3) 'that then Hashem thy G-d will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations ...'"

He further brings proofs from the Torah portions of Bil'am and the Cities of Refuge and from other prophets. But here he does not mention any source that the Mashiach will rebuild the Beit HaMikdash.(2)



IV. EVERY KING IS COMMANDED TO BUILD THE BEIT HAMIKDASH
It appears that the requirement that appointing a king must proceed building the Beit HaMikdash does not just refer to a king of the Davidic dynasty, but appointing any king will suffice. The source for this Talmudic statement is from the Biblical verse (Shmot 17:16) "because Hashem has sworn by His Throne that Hashem will have war with Amalek ..." This verse refers to Yehoshua, who was not from the tribe of Yehuda, but was nevertheless called a king for the puprpose of these three mitzvot that the Jewish People was commanded-to appoint a king, to wipe out the descendants of Amalek, and to build the Beit HaMikdash. Thus, the mitzvah to appoint a king, as well as the order of events, does not only refer to a Davidic king, but also to king from other tribes.(3)

It is also apparent from the Rambam in Hilchot Melachim 1:2, where he learns the halacha that appointing a king proceeds wiping out Amelek from KING SHAUL. In Halacha 3, he learns (based on the Sifri) that appointing a king requires a court of 71 judges and a prophet from YEHOSHUA. In Hilchot Beit HaBechirah he states "We do not add to Jerusalem or to the Temple Courtyard, except by a king ... and MOSHE was a king." He also writes in Hilchot Channuka 2:1, "They appointed a king from the KOHANIM, and the kingdom returned to Israel for more than 200 years ..."

We see that the mitzvah to appoint a king means ANY Jewish king, not just from Davidic descent or from the tribe of Yehuda. Accordingly, the laws in Hilchot Melachim apply for all generations, and certainly while we return from Exile, a kingdom could arise, before Mashiach comes, as specified in most of the chapters in Hilchot Melachim. The Mashiach, however will be a descendant of David and Shlomo, and his characteristics and deeds are spelled out in the LAST chapters of Hilchot Melachim.

Additionally, in "Igeret Teiman", where the Rambam describes the appearing of Mashiach, he brings down that at the first stage he will arise without people aware of his lineage. "People will not know of his arising."

A similar description of the End of Days is brought by the Tosafot Yomtov in his commentary to the Mishnah (Ma'aser Sheni 5:2), "It comes out that until the Davidic Kingdom, our enemies will have a little bit of rule over us, as was in the beginning of the Second Temple period." Here is where he deals with the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash (as we brought previously), and according to this a limited Jewish kingdom, even not fully independent, is good enough to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash, as was the case in the time of Ezra.(4)

It also appears that according to the Ramban (Rav Moshe Nachmanides), in his commentary to the Torah (Bamidbar 16:21), that the mitzvah of building the Beit HaMikdash does not just apply to a Davidic king. According to him, the plague in the time of King David after counting the People "was a punishment on Israel for delaying building the Beit HaMikdash, that the Ark went from tent to tent like a stranger in the land, and the Tribes did not wake up and say, 'Let us seek Hashem and build a house for His Name.'" The Kingdom of Israel was limited in the era of the Judges, before King David was anointed. As we said, the Rambam rules accordingly in the beginning of Hilchot Melachim, that the mitzvah is upon any king, not just a king from the Davidic Dynasty, to build the Beit HaMikdash.

It is also apparent from the Rambam's discussion in the "More Nevuchim" (Guide to the Perplexed) (vol. 3, chap. 45) that the precedence of appointing a king before building the Beit HaMikdash applies to appointing any king, not just from the David Dynasty. "To this comes the mitzvah that the Beit HaMikdash will not be built before establishing a king to command the building of the Beit HaMikdash and to remove dispute, as we explained in Sefer Shoftim." The role of a king is to prevent civil war in Israel over the rule of the Temple Mount, and thus only after a king is appointed does the mitzvah to build the Beit HaMikdash apply. This obligation, to prevent civil war, applies to any king, even appointed before Mashiach comes from the Davidic Dynasty. According to this, it is possible that the Beit HaMikdash can be built before Mashiach comes, according to the opinion of the Jerusalem Talmud.

Nevertheless, it is true that the Rambam writes in Hilchot Melachim 11:1 that the MASHIACH KING will build the Beit HaMikdash. This is only if, G-d forbid, the Beit HaMikdash is not already built by his predecessors, who are also commanded to build the Beit HaMikdash. The Rambam continues (Halacha 4), "A king from the Davidic Dynasty, wise in Torah and performing mitzvot like his father David, according to the Written and Oral Torah, will force all of Israel to walk in it and strengthen it, and he will fight Hashem's wars ..." He is only ASSUMED to be Mashiach, but is not DEFINITELY Mashiach. He only acquires the title of Mashiach "if he succeeds and REBUILDS THE BEIT HAMIKDASH in its place and gathers the Jewish exiles." Apparently, this is against what we said, but only the Mashiach can build the Beit HaMikdash, and not his predecessors. However, it appears that the intent is a negative understanding. Since Mashiach may only be ASSUMED to be Mashiach, it is inconceivable that he could have a status of DEFINITELY Mashiach without the Beit HaMikdash. But it is possible that the Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt before he comes, and the turning into DEFINITELY Mashiach will come about by fighting Hashem's wars and gathering the Jewish exiles .

The Rambam adds a stage. Even if the king is recognized as definitely Mashiach, it is possible that he is not Mashiach (according to the manuscript of Igeret Teiman in "Rambam La'am", Mosad HaRav Kook, and additional versions)

If he does not succeed until that point, or he is killed(5), it is clear that this is not the one that the Torah promised us, but he is like all other kosher Davidic kings who have died, and Hashem place him to test the people.

This means that there could be a situation where a king, who is later decided not to be Mashiach, has already fulfilled the conditions to be definitely Mashiach, including rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash. There is no possibility of "definitely Mashiach" without rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash, but there is a possibility of rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash before Mashiach comes, in the hands of a previous kingdom.

This resolves a difficulty we mentioned earlier. The Rambam specifies every detail of building the Beit HaMikdash in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah without mentioning that the obligation rests on Mashiach, since the mitzvah of building the Beit HaMikdash rests upon the Jewish People, even before Mashiach comes, when it is possible, even by a Jewish government not descended from David. The Rambam does not rule against the Jerusalem Talmud, and the Tosafot Yomtov, the Gevurot Ari, and Rav Kook are correct to rule like the Jerusalem Talmud.

Accordingly, there is no room to use the Rambam as an excuse to passively wait until the Mashiach rebuilds the Beit HaMikdash. This is a mitzvah on the Jewish People throughout the generations, and everyone must pressure the government to organize the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, at least as mush as they pressure the government for much less important issues. The belief in Mashiach will be stronger when the entire community, out of a feel for redemption, will engage in the subject of the Beit HaMikdash in both academic and practical matters.

Notes:

(1) The Vilna Gaon writes accordingly in he commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 335:3, 436:3; Yore De'a 63:1, 317:18. The Maharik also writes this in principal 100. This is explicit in the Raavad's dissensions, Hilchot Kriyat Shema 3:6. (See the Migdal 'Oz there and on Hilchot Shofar 1:5, stating that the Rambam rules like the Jerusalem Talmud.)

(2) Possibly, there is a source for this that the Rambam brings in Hilchot Teshuva 9:2: "... and the nations will come to hear him, as it is stated, (Yesha'yahu 2:2) 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Mountain of *Hashem's House* shall be established on the top of the mountains ...'" Nevertheless, it is conceivable that the intention is not the Beit HaMikdash, which we are commanded to build, but that the "Mountain of Hashem's House" is an expression for the spiritual center of the entire world. If the intention is the actual building, it is possible that the role of the Mashiach is to build the Beit HaMikdash if it is not previously built. Any way in Hilchot Melachim, the Rambam does not use any Biblical verse to prove this function of Mashiach. (See Rav Yehuda Shaviv's article, "Mitzvat Mikdash BeHilchot HaRambam" Techumin 8, p. 488-496, which distinguishes the mitzvah of building the Beit HaMikdash upon a king and the mitzvah of building the Beit HaMikdash upon the community.)

(3) The opposite is true according to the Talmud (Baba Batra 123b), which states that the sons of Esav (Amalek) only fall in the hands of Rachel's sons. Accordingly, Yehoshua, Shaul, Mordechai, and Esther, were all prodigy of Rachel. The Talmud continues to state that David, who battled Amalek, only did so with the merit of the leaders of the Menashe tribe, descended from Yosef.

(4) Another source, which I saw in a letter from the kid Uri Shachor, is the Malbim's commentary to Micha 4:8. "The former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem." A small government will come, and its leadership will be like Israel had in its first days before a king reigned of Israel, when the Judges were their leaders, and afterwards will Kingdom of the Daughter of Jerusalem come, which will be the permanent Davidic Kingdom, and only then will Mashiach rule permanently.

(5) The implication is that he does build the Beit HaMikdash, but he is killed! (from MIKDASH - BUILD, 7 Adar I 5757, Volume I, Number 20)


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Meaning of the words "Beit HaMikdash"

Some...have written asking about the etymology of the term "Beit HaMikdash". "Mikdash" means "holy place" and refers to the Tabernacle built by Moshe and which served in the Desert for 39 years and in Gilgal for 14 years, the roof-less building in Shiloh, which stood for 369 years, the interim structures in Nov and Giv'on, which stood for 57 years, the First Temple in Jerusalem built by Kings David and Shlomo, the Second Temple in Jerusalem built by Ezra and Nehemia and expanded by Herod, and the Third Temple, to be built speedily in our days. The term "Mikdash" appears in the Torah. "And they shall make for me a MIKDASH and I will dwell among them." (Shmot 25:8) This commandment is to build the Temple and all its vessels. (See Rambam Hilchot Beit HaBechirah, chapter 1) "Beit" means "house", and the "Ha" prefix means "of the". The Temple built by Kings David and Shlomo built a permanent place for the Shechina (Divine Presence) to rest, so what they built was the "house" for the "Mikdash", or "Beit HaMikdash."

REBUILDING THE BEIT HAMIKDASH 
ACCORDING TO RAV KOOK'S TEACHINGS, part I

by Rav Elitzur Segal
(originally published in Yibane HaMikdash, issue 91)

"The force of vitality for the Jewish Soul is the great yearning for the building of the Beit HaMikdash and returning its splendor, with the purpose of ideal perfection. Only this expectation elevates the spirit of all generations to know that there is an exalted purpose to their lives and a historical continuation. In this high point is hidden the Tree of Life of the connection of the Nation to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), and all the commandments dependent on the Land, however they apply, guard the moisture of this fundamental dew." (Ginzei HaReiyah, p. 154)

Rav Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook in a profound way is the Rabbi of all who foresee the Salvation and await the Redemption in our generation. Therefore, a precise and comprehensive study of his opinion on the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash, speedily in our days, is of great implication. This study relies on his known writings and not traditions and explanations not explicitly written.

I. GENERAL BACKGROUND

With the British conquered Eretz Yisrael (then called Palestine), the Zionist Union started a complicated campaign to helped the British acquire a Mandate over Eretz Yisrael on the one hand, and on the other hand, to get from the same Britain promises to further Zionism.

This campaign was not easy for the Zionists or for the British. Even with all the power Britain had then, ruling over a quarter of the world, she could not hide from strong powers opposing this goal. These powers were the Arabs, who wanted an independent state without Jews, the Vatican, who wanted to rule over Jerusalem, and France, who did not want Britain to be powerful in the Middle East and who were worried that a British Mandate over Eretz Yisrael would strengthen Britain's influence over the region and weaken France's.

In the framework of this struggle, the British turned to the various Jewish leaders in order to get promises of acceptance of their mandate and to know what they need to promise to get their support, in order to know which policy to s struggle for the Jews in the international scene.

Naturally, the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash was among the subjects discussed. The British wanted to know if accepting the mandate obligated them to struggle in the international scene for the building of the Beit HaMikdash on the Temple Mount. They wanted to know if this demand would come up immediately or in the future, and what weight in the Jewish community the people demanding building the Beit HaMikdash carried in the Jewish community. Were they willing and able to start and armed struggle for this purpose, or should they hope for a peace agreement.

Understandably, the answers to these questions were important factors in Britain's decision as to which policy to adopt, and whether to even accept the mandate. Clearly, there was a danger that Britain would decide that such an undertaking was not worth the trouble, and they would close out the possibility of a Jewish homeland. Because of this complication, it was written in the Letter of Mandate that its purpose was to establish a national homeland for the Jews without infringing upon the rights of non-Jewish religions and residents in Eretz Yisrael. The contradiction between these two clauses supplied many investigative committees that Britain sent to Eretz Yisrael.

Before the Mandate, Eretz Yisrael was governed by military rule. Most British generals in charge in the Middle East, including Eretz Yisrael, Cyprus, Egypt, Malta, Gibraltar, Trans-Jordan, Iraq, and Sudan, saw the obligation from their government to the Zionists as a burdensome and superfluous task that was better to do without. One of the most outspoken proponents of this position was the military commander of Eretz Israel, General Y. Louis Boles, whose role in the military council in Eretz Yisrael was parallel to the role of Prime Minister today.

Rav Kook wrote to this general on 13 Sivan 5680 (1920 CE) and specified in it his position and demands regarding the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, and the Beit HaMikdash. This letter was publicized at the end of the book "Yoman HaKotel HaMa'aravi" by Rav Ya'akov Orenstein (Jerusalem 5728 [1968 CE] page 459. See also M.R.T. Neriyah's book "Mo'adei HaReiyah," p. 484). It appears from the letter that it is only a sample from an ongoing correspondence, most of which is not available.

II. LETTER TO GENERAL Y. L. BOLES

The Honorable Chief Administrator General Y. L. Boles.

Dear Minister,

I was honored that to receive such a dignified response to the letter I wrote an the first of the month regarding the Holy Western Wall by the Great Colonel. I would be honored to note to your honor a few notes regarding the general relationship of our People to this holy place, particularly to the Western Wall.

1. All of Israel believes with complete faith that this holy place and the entire Temple Mount is the eternal holy place of the Jewish People. Even if it will be under the rule of other for a long period, it will ultimately come to our hands, and the Hand of G-d will reveal the great wonder that on it our Holy Temple will be built in it great splendor as our Prophets have promised, in particular Yehezkel the Prophet whose entire vision was about the Third Temple that we believe will be built, speedily in our days.

2. The fact that we do not enter beyond the Wall does not lessen our rights and attachment to this holy place. However, it is because our attachment is so great to it and to its exalted holiness. It is because we recognize that the Glory of Hashem our G-d fills it, and its holiness is still there, as much as when the Beit HaMikdash was standing, and we do not have the religious means to prepare ourselves, until the time will come when we will have all that is necessary to prepare ourselves to stand in this holy place that we are tied to with all our souls...

In this letter, we see the policy of pragmatic activism that Rav Kook chose. Rav Kook again and again emphasizes that we want the place of the Beit HaMikdash. He firsts refutes the claim that, if this mountain is yours, why do we not enter it by saying that we do not have the religious means to enable us to enter. It is important to note that Rav Kook is particular not to say that a supernatural event must occur to build the Beit HaMikdash. With this, Rav Kook understood well that in that time it was pointless to struggle for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash. He therefore does not forcefully demand its rebuilding, but he does not forego the demand itself.

III. A LETTER TO THE ZIONIST LEADERSHIP

Another letter on this matter is found in "Igrot HaReiyah" (vol. 1, letter 127 - page 121), dated 29 Tevet 5682 (1922 CE) and addressed to the Zionist leadership. The reason for this letter was an article that appeared in the English newspaper, which said that a yeshiva for studying the laws of the Beit HaMikdash was started. The Zionist leadership was concerned that this would translate into a tough Arab and British response, and they sent a letter of clarification to Rav Kook. (only the relevant excerpts are brought down here)

Honorable Zionist Leadership,

In response to the honorable letter that came to my hands with the article from the Christian, English newspaper about the founding of the yeshiva called "Ateret Kohanim", I would be honored to tell you these details:

3. The foundation of national vitality must be, despite the secular opponents, based on its holy source, which is the beckoning of the nation to return to tacts of holiness and the eternal beckoning to build the Beit HaMikdash, speedily in our days, and must stand out in strait heartedness and great faith, constantly without stopping or weakening.

4. Our faith is strong that the days will come when all nations will recognize that the place that Hashem chose for eternity, the place of our Beit HaMikdash, must return to its rightful owners, and on it the Great and Holy House will be built, that we will make a House of Prayer for All Nations, by Hashem's word.

Even though this institution is for pure Torah study, it hints to the entire world that the nations should not think that there is even one moment of giving up, G-d forbid, or of forgetting our ties to the memories of the Beit HaMikdash, which is the cornerstone of all holy places. This is after I was already officially asked by the British Committee (Segal: I am not sure what Rav Kook meant. It could possibly refer to the correspondence with General Boles, of which one letter which was quoted above???) what my opinion is on how we relate to the place of the Beit HaMikdash. I told them that, just as we see our rights to the land in general, even though the general public opinion is far for this, the Divine providence has arranged that reasons which were far to come close, and we are confident that this enlightenment will continue, until all nations will recognize that our rights to our holy land our written in the Holy Torah. Likewise, the days will come when they will recognize our right to the place of the Beit HaMikdash, and they will all know and accept that the vision of the prophet that said about this holy place, "... because My house will be called a House of Prayer for all Peoples" will come true only when this Great and Holy House is rebuilt by its original owners, the eternal owners, the Jewish People. Here also, we see the tactics that Rav Kook chose. He was particular to say at every opportunity, and also in front of the British, that we are intersected in building the Beit HaMikdash and are not conceding on its place. He also goes to great length to emphasize that our not entering the place is not a concession on our rights to the place of the Beit HaMikdash. Rav Kook is careful not to tie the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash with a supernatural cause, but he stipulates its rebuilding only on natural developments in the national and international specter. Despite this, he is careful not to demand the right to build the Beit HaMikdash immediately, in order not to lose what had been gained so far.

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THE STRUGGLE ON THE TEMPLE MOUNT

by the late Chief Rabbi, Rav Shlomo Goren
(Yibane HaMikdash, issue 110, originally in Darchei Torah)

With the first military deployment in the liberated and united Jerusalem, I decided that the time has come to establish facts on the ground, and I started to organize Jewish prayer services on the Temple Mount, in areas permissible for those defiled by contact with the dead to enter.

In these great days, I could not free myself from the thought that, from a historical perspective, the designation of the Western Wall Plaza for Jewish prayer is only the result of Jews being banned from the Temple Mount by the Crusaders and by Moslems together. Hence, an intolerable situation has been created, that even after the liberation of the Temple Mount, the Moslems remained up on the Temple Mount, and we stayed down below, them inside and us outside.

Prayer by the Western Wall is a sign of destruction and exile, and not freedom and redemption, since Jewish prayer by the Western Wall started only in the 16th century. Before that, Jews had prayed on the Temple Mount for centuries, and when they were expelled, they prayed on the Mountain of Olives, across from the Eastern Gate. Jews have been praying by the Western Wall for only about three hundred years.

In the framework of the function of the Military Rabbinate, we held organized study and prayer on the Temple Mount -- Shacharit (morning service), Mincha (afternoon service), and Ma'ariv (evening service), and Torah reading on Shabbat, Monday, and Thursday on the Temple Mount Plaza itself, inside the Mugrabi Gate, near our study center. Once, the Waqaf people tried to close the Shevatim Gate, on the northeastern end of the Temple Mount, from a gathering of officers of the Military Rabbinate that was held on the Temple Mount. We broke through the gate and entered. That taught them the Temple Mount is ours officially and practically.

On the 9th of Av, 5727 (1967 CE), I held a Mincha service for a small group on the Temple Mount Plaza across from the steps going up south of the Dome of the Rock, a place that is permissible to enter according to all Halachic authorities. This Mincha service on the 9th of Av on the Temple Mount raised many reactions in the media in Israel and abroad. Jewish writers hostile to religion in the State started incitement against our efforts to renew Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

HANDING THE KEYS TO THE WAQAF

In the midst of deliberations, in both governmental and religious frameworks, about renewing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and building a permanent synagogue on the open southern plain, the Minister of Defense told me, to my great surprise, that he decided to pass the auspices and responsibilities for all arrangements on the Temple Mount to the Islamic Waqaf. He ordered me to take the Torah study center of the Military Rabbinate down from the Temple Mount and to remove all officers of the Temple Mount. From then on, according to him, the Military Rabbinate has no responsibility for the arrangements there, and I should stop organizing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. I accepted the order with anger and pain, and I told the Minister of Defense that this is likely to bring about a third destruction, since the key to our sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is the Temple Mount.

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