A scholar once presented a copy of his treatise regarding the sacrificial service in the Beis HaMikdash to R’ Baruch of Mezhibuzh for an approbation. After receiving no reply, he asked R’ Baruch the reason for his hesitation.
“I haven’t been able to look at your book,” R. Baruch answered. “Please understand. It has nothing to do with you or your scholarship. It’s my problem.
“Every morning when I recite the passage Azehu mekomon shel zevachim,—‘Where is the location of the sacrifices?’—in the morning prayers, I contemplate the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and I am overcome with remorse. There is no way I could bear to read an entire text on the subject.”
Indeed, we find that inquiries in the time of the Gemara into practical aspects of Mikdash-practices were dismissed with the notion that they are “Hilchesa LiMeshicha” – laws for the time of Moshiach. In other words, irrelevant. The Tur and Shulchan Aruch as well, leave out any aspect of Jewish law which isn’t relevant in times of exile.
There is, however, another way of looking at the subject. Instead of looking back to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, one can look forward to the Third Beis HaMikdash which will be built by Moshiach and find the study of its laws possible and meaningful.
G-d revealed the details of the structure of the future Beis HaMikdash to the prophet Yechezkel, and told him: “Tell the people of Israel of the House … let them measure its plan.”
Yechezkel replied to Him: “Master of the universe, why are You telling me to go and tell Israel the form of the House … They are now in exile in the land of our enemies; is there anything they can do about it? Let them be until they return from the exile. Then, I will go and inform them.”
G-d answered: “Should the construction of My House be ignored because My children are in exile?”
G-d declared: “The study of it in the Torah can be equated to its actual construction. Go, tell them to study the form of the Beis HaMikdash. As a reward for their study… I will consider it as if they actually built it.”
This held truth always; how much more so in our times in which the signs of Chazal pointing to the imminence of Moshiach’s arrival have all been fulfilled.
This prompted visionary Jewish leaders to make bold attempts to bring the study of Mikdash related matters back to the contemporary curriculum of Yeshivos and study halls. Already in the past century the Chafetz Chayim, R’ Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin, felt it was time. He appealed to his fellow brethren, especially kohanim, to become versed in the laws of sacrificing Korbanos and wrote books on the topic.
“At the time of redemption, when thousands will need to offer Korbanos, they will run to the Kohanim. The Kohanim will run to the scholars so they can teach them how each Korban should be offered. What utter shame will befall every Torah scholar when he won’t know how to answer!”
– The Chafetz Chayim
In the summer of 5736 (1976), the Lubavitcher Rebbe launched a campaign to study the laws of the Beis HaMikdash, especially in the “Three Weeks,” – the mourning period for the destruction of the Temple. The Rebbe also called to associate the study with giving Tzedakah, to fulfill the pasuk “Tzion will be redeemed through judgment (Torah), and her captives with righteousness (Tzedakah).”
In later years the Rebbe added that the study is of practical relevance now, as the arrival of the third Beis HaMikdash is now imminent more than ever!
To heed the Rebbe’s call, many books, pamphlets, videos and various other resources have been published since. We present in the following posts, an overview of just a few of many.
Let the construction begin!
- הלכות בית הבחירה להרמב”ם עם חידושים וביאורים
- Seek out the welfare of Jerusalem
- משכני עליון – Mishkanei Elyon
- מקדש דמשיחא – The Messianic Temple