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Mikdash - The Goal and Outline of the Series

  • Rav Yitzchak Levy
            This series of shiurim is rooted in the desire to make us all more aware of the Mikdash – the Temple - and become more sensitive to its absence.
            For diverse and understandable reasons, awareness of the Mikdash is very far from our day-to-day experience.  One of the deepest reasons is that despite the centrality of the Temple and the sacrifices brought therein  in both the Written and the Oral Law (as the subject matter of the orders of Kodshim and Taharot), we do not relate to this realm because it is so exotic in our eyes.  The Mikdash is irrelevant to our generation; it embodies a great and exalted idea, which demands preparation and desire on the part of all of Israel and its Torah authorities, and there is an exceedingly strong feeling that the entire topic falls outside of the category of that which is "over le-asiyatan," "immediately prior to its performance." Thus, the great cognitive, emotional and existential distance.
            It is my assumption that one of the important ways of enhancing awareness is through study.  Understanding what the Mikdash is, what its essence is, and what its functions are can bring the significance of its absence into sharper focus.
            Theoretically, this goal can be achieved in two ways: through study of the destruction of the Mikdash and the consequences thereof or by learning to appreciate the significance of the Temple while it stood and operated.  I have chosen the second path: to try and describe the significance of the Mikdash in its heyday – what it looked like and what meaning was attached to its existence.
            In this framework, I will be dealing with the ideal situation.  I have not forgotten that the Mikdash was twice destroyed – at the end of the period of the monarchy and at the end of the second Temple period.  This teaches us that it is exceedingly difficult to preserve the nature of the place in its pure form for an extended period of time.  Nevertheless, in order to impress the reader with the Temple in its pristine essence, I will be describing the ideal situation.
            Here is a rough outline of this series of shiurim (which, apparently, will continue into next year).  I will begin with an attempt to concretize the absence of the Mikdash.  I will then examine the essence of the Mikdash and its various functions.  The lion's share of the series will involve a systematic review of the history of the resting of God's Shekhina in this world from the time of creation and on.  I will deal with the various connections to Mount Moriya.  I will study the worship of the patriarchs, examining the parallels between Bet-El and Jerusalem.  I will continue with the resting of the Shekhina on Mount Sinai, comparing it to Mount Moriya.  I will deal with the essence of the Mishkan and raise the question whether its establishment was lekhatchila or bedi'eved – the ideal situation or a concession to reality.  I will follow the route taken by the Mishkan from the foot of Mount Sinai through its various stations until it reached Mount Moriya, and we will discuss including the relationship between Shilo and Jerusalem.  I will then proceed to the first and second Temple periods.
            It will be difficult to encompass all the aforementioned topics in the framework of this series, but I will try, and at the very least, I will present a general picture of the essence of the Mikdash from its earliest beginnings and until the period of the return to Zion.  I will be dealing mostly with the biblical and conceptual aspects of the issue, but in certain cases, I will also touch upon halakhic ramifications.
With blessings for a year of good tidings, salvation and consolation,
Yitzchak Levy