Ascending the Temple Mount (Credit: Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz/Breaking Israel News)
Though there is no Temple in Jerusalem, in very many ways, Jewish sources describe the Temple Mount as the viaduct for blessings, spiritual and material, to flow into the world. Several experts weigh in on this source of divine bounty.
Mordechai Persoff, head of the Mikdash Educational Center, noted that the blessing of sustenance came to the world via the Temple and the Temple Mount. Persoff cited a Midrash (homiletic teaching) that described the even hashtiya (the large stone that lay underneath the Holy of Holies in the Temple) as the seed from which all of creation grew.
“Every person can look to the Temple Mount and the Holy of Holies as their true origin,” Persoff said to Breaking Israel News. “In all the world, this is every individual’s personal connection to creation.”
Persoff cited another Midrash in which the even hashtiya is referred to as a tabor (belly button or umbilical cord).
“Just as the sustenance flows from the mother to the child via the tabor, spiritual and physical sustenance flow into the world via the Temple Mount,” Persoff said. “It is as if every person had a spiritual umbilical cord to God, all of them passing through that one point on the Temple Mount.”
Yet another Midrash refers to the Temple Mount as the lev (heart).
“The thing about the heart is that it is hidden,” Persoff said. “A person can look perfectly healthy but if there is a problem with his heart, if he has not paid attention to his heart, he will die. The same is true for the world. Everything can look fine with all the material concerns taken care of but if we ignore our heart, the Temple Mount, we are in grave danger.”
Persoff described different levels in which God provides our material needs.
“In Egypt, we ate from the sweat of our brow and there was no blessing in our everyday sustenance,” Persoff said. “It was only sustenance with no clear level of blessing. Before we came into the land of Israel, the blessing was all around us and there was no work. We ate the manna in the desert. It was a period of healing in which we were like a sick person in a hospital. But after we came into the Holy Land, there became a link between sustenance and holiness. We were partners. Our work, the land, was a meeting of material and spiritual, work and blessing.”
Persoff explained that the three pilgrimage feasts corresponded to three blessings that come down to the world via the Temple. On Passover, the harvest is blessed. On Sukkot, the blessing of rain is established. The bikurim (first-fruits) were first brought to the Temple on the holiday of Shavuot, which is when the fruit was blessed.
“There is a correspondence between the Temple, the service, and the agriculture. We learn that we always need to look up to Hashem, every day all day. It is a greater blessing than the manna which came directly from heaven. The blessing that came through our hands, from the land that Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’) promised us, was even greater. And this came through focusing on the Temple.”
Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer, the Chief Rabbi of Mitzpe Yericho, has a deep spiritual connection to the Temple Mount, visiting the site regularly for more than a decade. He also noted the Jewish tradition of blessings being integrally connected to the Temple Mount.
“The Talmud states explicitly that bounty comes into the world via the Temple and the Temple Mount,” Rabbi Kroizer told Breaking Israel News. “The rains, the fruit, the grains, everything changed with the destruction of the Temple. As much as we think we understand nature, agriculture was on a totally different level in Temple times and will return to that when the Temple is rebuilt.”
Rabbi Kroizer also noted a different blessing, perhaps no less important, that originates from the Temple.
“But the Talmud also states that since the Temple was destroyed, Jews are not permitted to be entirely happy,” the rabbi said, citing Psalms as the source for this section of Talmud.
Our mouths shall be filled with laughter, our tongues, with songs of joy. Then shall they say among the nations, “Hashem has done great things for them!”
“The Temple was the source of pure joy,” Rabbi Kroizer said. “If a person dedicates themselves to Geula (redemption), to Hashem and his special place in the world, the source of blessing and joy, it is clear that he will see some blessing.”
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the founder of the Temple Institute, takes a more pragmatic approach.
“Jews have mitzvot (Torah commandments) to perform,” Rabbi Ariel said to Breaking Israel News. “That is how we connect ourselves to God. Our relationship with it is not theoretical or in the spiritual. The important thing to remember is that the Temple was and will be a real place with mitzvot attached to it. The sacrifices were the avodah (service, or work). Prayer is called avoda sh’ba’lev (service that is in the heart). That is why no matter where we are in the world, we face toward the Temple Mount when we pray.”
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When our youngest son was born in Jerusalem, we knew that he would serve in the army, an obligation and privilege as an Israeli Jew, pretty much as genetic as his actual DNA. But when our oldest son was born in N.J., we didn’t know this would be his destiny.