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In the three weeks preceding Tisha B'Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both the first and second Holy Temples in Jerusalem, it is customary to study laws and concepts dealing with this essential edifice.
The Holy Temple was symbolic of the quintessential person.
The main sanctuary had two rooms.
The inner room was the Holy of Holies which housed the Holy Ark.
The Ark contained the tablets with the Ten Commandments.
From this room emanated Divine Wisdom, corresponding to the human mind. (In synagogues throughout the world today, the ark - symbolic of the Holy Temple's ark - contains the Torah scrolls.)
The outer room represented a person's face.
In the upper left of the outer room was the menora, and to the upper right was the golden table with twelve challahs.
The menora and the table on which the challahs sat correspond to a person's two eyes, which are to be used for two purposes. One is for intellectual pursuits symbolized by the light of the menora. Just as the menora's fuel was pure oil, so too should man strive for purity in his Jewish education.
The second purpose of one's eyes is for survival: to see and avoid pitfalls, to search out food in order to live - symbolized by the challahs.
The challahs were not prepared every day, but baked on the Sabbath Eve, left on the golden table for one week, and replaced the following week.
The previous challahs - which miraculously remained fresh - were divided among the priests on Shabbat, and although each priest received only a small portion, it was enough to satisfy his desire for food. This teaches us that one should not pursue food for his own pleasure and indulge in hedonistic practices. One should eat for a higher and holy motive, sustaining himself so that he may serve his fellow man and his Creator.
In the center of the room was the golden altar upon which the incense was offered.
This corresponds to the nose in the center of the face. The incense was compounded from herbs and spices that had great mystical significance. It represented the spreading of peace and pleasantness among people. The offering of the incense was an atonement for gossip and talebearing. We learn from this that one should strive to make the world a better and more pleasant abode for G-d's Presence and His creations.
The opening of the sanctuary, representing the mouth, was located at the bottom of the outer room. Here the priests stood when they uttered the priestly benediction every morning: "May the L-rd bless you and keep you. May the L-rd cause His countenance to shine upon you and be gracious to you..." Like G-d, a person has the power to create with his words. He can negotiate peace or declare war. The lesson of the door of the Sanctuary is to use our words to create and bestow blessings upon our fellow man.
Outside the Sanctuary, in the center of the courtyard, stood the altar upon which sacrifices were offered and consumed.
This represents the stomach and internal organs of man.
Some sacrifices were offered as an atonement for a sin that was committed. Others were offered as a joyous thanksgiving offering.
As a general rule, the more grievous the sin, the less was eaten. The more joyous the occasion, the more was eaten and shared. The lesson for man is that the more he merits by performing the mitzvot, the more he will have to enjoy and share.
Adapted from: The Holy Temple Revisited, by Rabbi Leibel Reznick, published by Jason Aronson, Inc.
Our Torah portion, Devarim, begins with a rebuke of the Jewish people. Moses lectures them on many of their failings. It ends, however, on a positive note: Moses tells the Jewish people that when they enter the Land and go out to battle against Canaan, they should not fear, because G-d will fight for them.
So too in the Haftora, Isaiah starts his vision with a rebuke of the Jewish people. "Woe to a sinful nation, a people heavy with iniquity, evildoing seed, corrupt children. They forsook the Lord; they provoked the Holy One of Israel; they drew backwards." But the Haftora ends on a positive note: "Zion will be redeemed through justice..." (This Shabbat is called Shabbat Chazon, the Sabbath of Vision. It is named for the first words of the Haftora, "The vision of Isaiah. ")
These readings are always read on the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av (the fast of Ninth of Av), the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. Tisha B'Av commemorates the destruction of both of our Temples in Jerusalem and much more.
The rebukes found in our Torah portion and Haftora seem to fit the general theme of Tisha B'Av. But how do the encouraging endings fit such a sad and calamitous day?
For one thing, the optimism at the end enables us to realize that though Tisha B'Av is a sad day, the sadness connected with it has a positive purpose. None of the suffering was in vain.
Even more, with the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple, we will see with clarity how our efforts and suffering were that which brought about the ultimate redemption.
When Moshiach comes, Tisha B'Av will be celebrated as a happy day. But a question begs to be asked. Will the calamitous events of the day be erased from Jewish history? Can facts cease to exist? Tisha B'Av will be a holiday because with the revelation of Moshiach there will also be revealed to us that all of the Tisha B'Av events were in truth positive.
Each of us finds ourselves in difficult situations from time to time. It's hard to see the positive in them. But if a person takes the time to recognize that G-d placed him or her in that specific situation, he will realize that there must be a positive purpose. Though he might not be aware of what the purpose is, he will be able to keep upbeat and positive.
Adapted by Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz from the teachings of the Rebbe, yitzihurwitz.blogspot.com. Rabbi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and his wife Dina, are emissaries of the Rebbe in Temecula, Ca.
Building and Yearning
Dozens of models of the Holy Temple have been made over the years. Behind every one of those models are special people who invested their energy, talents, time, and money to plan and construct a miniature Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple).
The first model that we find information about was a model constructed in Holland over 350 years ago. The Holland model is written about in a book called Tavnit Heichal that was printed in Amsterdam in 1650. The book was written by Yaakov Yehuda Aryeh.
The architect and German missionary, Conrad Schick, who lived in Jerusalem over 100 years ago, built a model of the Mikdash. That model is now located opposite the Damascus Gate in the Schmidt school, a Christian school. His model is large and very wide and is made of wood. It was commissioned by Turkish authorities for display at the Ottoman pavilion at the 1873 World Fair in Vienna.
"Schick studied with many Jewish teachers and took a great interest in all the Jewish sources about the Temple," says Rabbi Zalmen Koren, a researcher on the Beit HaMikdash and the designer of the one at the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem .
Another important model of the Beit HaMikdash was constructed by Mr. Yaakov Yehudah, a renowned architect and artist. He made aliya to Israel in the 1920s and made several models of the Temple. He thoroughly researched the subject from both Talmudic and archaeological standpoints. He made a large model (three meters by three meters) which was acclaimed by the great Jewish scholars of the time including Rav Iser Zalman Meltzer, Rav Kook and Rav Herzog. He displayed his newly constructed model at the 1939 New York World's Fair.
His model made a tremendous impression on all who beheld it at the time, and it was written up in the May 21, 1939 issue of Life Magazine. Unfortunately, the model is no longer in existence.
Another model of the Temple was permanently on display in Rabbi Meir Shapiro's Yeshivat Chachmei Lublin. The model was set up in the lobby of the yeshiva. It was made by the artist Chanoch Weintraub who worked on it for years while studying the sources. In the yeshiva there was a guide who explained the model to visitors and tourists.
Setting up the model in the yeshiva was for the purpose of making it easier for the students to understand the Talmudic references and commentaries that discuss the Mikdash in detail and its laws. "Placing the model in the heart of the yeshiva was an expression of the longing that always burned in the heart of our rebbi [R' Shapiro] for the building of G-d's Chosen House and the complete Redemption, and his strong desire to instill this awareness in the hearts of his students and the entire nation," wrote an author of a book about Rabbi Shapiro.
A special model was made by Rabbi Elchanan Eybeshitz in 1933 in consultation with great Torah sages of the time.
At the beginning of World War II, Rabbi Eybeshitz received a menacing visit by a German officer who demanded the model of the "military fortress." Apparently, one of the neighbors reported that he had this model. Rabbi Eybeshitz told the officer that it wasn't a military fortress but the Jewish Temple that was in existence 2,000 years earlier. This assuaged the Nazi officer but he still confiscated the model, promising that it would be sent to a museum. Since then, its whereabouts are unknown. After miraculously surviving the war, Rabbi Eybeshitz began building a new model.
Perhaps the most famous model of the Beit HaMikdash is the 1:50 scale model measuring 2,000 square meters (21,520 square feet) which was commissioned in 1966 by Mr. Hans Kroch, the owner of the Holyland Hotel, in memory of his son, Yaakov, an IDF soldier who was killed in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. He bought the entire hill where his son was killed and built the hotel and model there.
The model was designed by Israeli historian and geographer Michael Avi Yonah based on the writings of Flavius Josephus and other historical sources, and with help from Professor Yoram Tzafrir of the Archaeological Institute of Hebrew University. It uses mainly the same materials as the original: marble, copper and iron, stone and wood.
The model was moved from its original location at the Holyland Hotel in Bayit VeGan, Jerusalem, to a new site at the Israel Museum in June 2006. In preparation for the move, the model was sawed into 1,000 pieces and later reassembled.
The model does not precisely match all the details of the Beit HaMikdash but it has been visited by millions of Jews over the past many decades. The model enables people to get a glimpse not only of the Beit HaMikdash but of Jerusalem at that time.
The model most accurately depicting the Beis HaMikdash is the most special model of all, the one located at the Western Wall tunnels. Rabbi Koren designed it and Avi Kedar built it.
The model includes not only the Beit HaMikdash but the entire Temple Mount area as we know it today.
"The difficulties I had to deal with in designing the model weren't simple," said Rabbi Koren. "Although I had already described the form and measurements in a book I wrote, writing about it was nothing compared to the difficulty in actually making the model when you need to know how to translate every detail into a practical reality. That's an altogether different story."
At Machon HaMikdash (The Temple Institute) in Jerusalem, there is a beautiful model which was made by the artist, Michoel Osnis of the former Soviet Union.
It took nine months to make the model. It measures two meters by one meter and includes the azara and the Mikdash. The model is near the rest of the Temple vessels and priestly clothing that the Machon has commissioned, all ready to be used in the Third Holy Temple, may it be built speedily in our day!
Reprinted from Beis Moshiach Magazine.
Kosher Restaurant for Jamaica
Chabad of Jamaica has opened a Kosher restaurant in the city of Montego Bay, Jamaica. The restaurant, Kosher Hot Spot, will serve the thousands of tourists in addition to the local Jewish community
Chabad of the Philippines welcomed a new Torah. The Torah was written and completed in Israel and then brought to the Philippines.
Chabad of Neuilly, France, also celebrated the completion and welcoming of a new Torah this month.
The Chabad Chai Jewish Center of Canton, Massachusetts recently opened a magnificent state-of the art mikva.
The Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Merrick, New York, with the participation of Mikvah USA also recently opened a new, beautifully appointed mikva.
Av 5740 
Greeting and Blessing:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter with the enclosure, in which you express your thoughts and ideas on the situation in Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel], especially in relation to its Arab neighbors, etc.
Although neither time nor space permit an adequate reply to the various aspects of your memorandum, I will take this opportunity to make several practical remarks.
When a person is deeply involved in a matter, both in thought and in writing, obviously the intention is to accomplish something thereby. In the present instance, this depends upon finding a receptive ear and proper response on the part of those to whom the thoughts and ideas are addressed - in the present case, the Arabs.
A second consideration to be borne in mind is that when there are two options, one of them more comprehensive and far-reaching but not very practical, and the other more limited but decidedly more practical, one must opt for the latter. By way of a simple illustration: in treating a patient, the first objective must be to strengthen his health and vital signs and then, to cure him of his illness. Similarly, if the patient is suffering from two maladies, one more serious than the other, the more serious one should be dealt with first.
Bearing this in mind, and in light of the present "Nine Days," commemorating the destruction of the Beth Hamikdash [Holy Temple] and the beginning of the present Exile, Jews are called upon to reflect upon the cause of the latter, that is, as we say in our prayer, "Because of our sins we have been exiled from our land."No other causes are mentioned, and rightly so, because all other causes were actually consequences of this main cause, namely, failure to cleave to the way of the Torah and mitzvoth [commandments], with which the destiny of our people is so closely intertwined. Therefore, there is only one way to reverse the situation, and that is, by removing the cause; and whatever else must be done in the natural order of things is really secondary, and can only be successful if the primary approach is fully implemented.
Now with reference to the present situation of Eretz Yisrael vis-a-vis the Arabs, it is surely quite evident that the chances of making peace with the Arabs on any terms but their own are very slim, for they demand everything and are willing to give nothing in return. If, at some time in the past, there may have been some hope that the Arabs would accept a compromise for the sake of peace, it is now quite clear that there is no such prospect, inasmuch as they no longer hide or disguise their demands. Worse still, in light of the international situation, there is no reason to expect them to modify their demands. There is no need to go into detail here, but it is clear that in the natural order of things, the prospects for peace are, as mentioned, very slim.
On the other hand, since the history of our people throughout the ages has provided ample confirmation of the fact that Jewish survival does not depend on the good graces of the nations of the world but, as already mentioned, is linked to our adherence to the Torah and mitzvoth - for it is in this way that our Jewish people draws its strength from a Source that is supernatural - we therefore have to do everything in our power to strengthen that link. And this is where every Jew can do his share in a very practical and effective way, that is, by spreading and strengthening Yiddishkeit [Judaism], Torah and mitzvoth, to the fullest extent of his or her ability. Again, in order to be most practical - there is no need for grandiose schemes, but let everyone do his or her part, in one's own family and one's immediate circle, step by step, both by example and by precept, for we have the assurance that "Words from the heart enter the heart and eventually have an effect." In this connection, it is also well to bear in mind the ruling, (not simply the idea), of the Rambam [Moses Maimonides] to the effect that a person should consider himself, as well the whole world, to be in a state of equilibrium, so that one good action tips the scale in his favor, and in favor of the whole world.
May G-d grant that everyone should do his and her share, along the above lines, and thus hasten the time when the present days will be transformed into days of gladness and rejoicing.
What are some of the laws and customs of Tisha B'Av?
Tisha B'Av is a full day fast. In addition to abstaining from food and drink, we do not wear leather shoes, bathe, apply lotions and oils, or engage in intimate relations. Special prayers are said in the evening and morning, as well. Many have the custom to clean their homes after noon on Tisha B'Av in anticipation of the Redemption, as the Talmud relates that Moshiach was born on Tisha B'Av. For more info or the times for the fast visit chabad.org
Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman
The Shabbat before Tisha B'Av is called "Shabbat Chazon - The Sabbath of Vision." According to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, every Jewish soul is afforded a "vision" of the Third Holy Temple.
The Haftora that is read following the Torah portion, the "Vision of Isaiah," is a prophecy about the Temple's destruction. Oddly enough, the word "vision" is used when discussing both the destruction and rebuilding of the Holy Temple.
About the destruction, our Sages declared, "A lion (Nebuchadnezzar) came in the month whose sign is a lion (Av) to destroy Ariel ('the lion of G-d' -the Holy Temple), so that a lion (G-d) will come in the month whose sign is a lion and build Ariel." Once again we find the same word - "lion"-referring to both the destruction and the rebuilding of the Temple. What can we learn from this?
In order to understand the connection between the two, let us examine the true nature of the destruction. We are expressly forbidden to raze a synagogue. We are also prohibited from wantonly destroying an object of value. Why, then, did G-d allow His dwelling place on earth to be demolished?
The only instance in which it is permissible to tear down a synagogue is when one wishes to build an even more magnificent edifice on the same site. It follows that the destruction of the Holy Temple also fell into this category. The Second Temple was destroyed only because G-d wanted to build the Third and most exalted Holy Temple-the one that would stand for eternity.
The inner purpose of the destruction, therefore, was solely to rebuild. That is why the Midrash relates that "the redeemer of Israel" was born at the moment the Temple was destroyed: from that moment on, the true objective of the destruction - the Redemption and the building of the Third Holy Temple - could begin to be realized.
Just as the Temple's destruction was an integral part of its rebuilding, so, too, is the exile an integral part of the Final Redemption and the coming of Moshiach, may it happen speedily.
He [Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa] used to say: "Anyone whose good deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure; but anyone whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, his wisdom will not endure... "(Ethics 3:10)
Through study a person learns how to do a mitzva. Nevertheless, the final deed is the main thing, for the deed causes an additional measure of spiritual light to infuse the level of wisdom. In this way, a person's wisdom will not merely survive, but also endure.
(Sefer HaMa'amarim 5654)
The Jewish view of wisdom is essentially different from that of the ancient Greeks. According to Aristotle, the function of man, his highest virtue and his ultimate purpose are the attainment of the contemplative life, the exercise of reason. But for the Jew, wisdom and knowledge are only the means to an end. "Great is study because it leads to action," states the Talmud. No one in the throes of hunger has ever benefitted from another's high thoughts alone. Jewish thought requires "fruit" - tangible accomplishment in the real world, practical achievements in reforming the heart of man.
(Ethics From Sinai)
Rabbi Akiva used to say: Beloved is man, for he was created in the image of G-d; but it is by a special love that he was informed that he was created in the image of G-d (Ethics 3:14)
G-d created man in His image, charging him, by virtue of his intellect, with dominance over the rest of creation. This is reflected in the fact that human beings walk erect with head held high, whereas all other creatures, whose source is earthly, walk on all fours looking down.
Everything is for the preponderance of (good) deeds (Ethics 3:15)
The number of times that a person performs a positive act is significant, therefore it is preferable to give charity in the form of many different gifts rather than in one lump sum of the same amount. By giving repeatedly, a person ingrains the trait of generosity in his character. (The Rebbe)
Where there is no flour, there is no Torah; where there is no Torah, there is no flour
Flour (bread) is food for the body; Torah is sustenance for the soul; both are necessary to sustain the Jew properly. Each type of nourishment complements the other, for when one is lacking, the other suffers as well.
(Maharal of Prague)
Reb Mendel had just visited the Baal Shem Tov, and had stopped in the town of Zolochov. His visit was no accident, though, for he had been asked by the Baal Shem Tov to pass through the town and convey his warm regards to Reb Michel, the water carrier of the town. Reb Mendel was honored to perform this favor for the Baal Shem Tov, and was himself very anxious to meet this man who was most certainly one of the hidden saints and mystics--members of the Baal Shem Tov's circle of followers.
He entered the town and immediately stopped one of the residents and asked for directions to the home of Reb Michel. Following along the main road, he turned and turned again through the winding alleys until he had left the more prosperous looking streets, and found himself in the poorest section of the town. Here the houses were no more than toppling huts which barely could withstand the elements. Reb Mendel again inquired after the water carrier, and was directed to one shack which stood amongst this sad lot.
He approached the door and knocked, and a women appeared at the door. Reb Mendel lost no time in relaying the message: "I have come to give regards to your husband from the Baal Shem Tov from whom I have just come."
A bright smile flashed across the woman's features, and she replied, "My husband is not at home right now, but I expect him to return shortly. If you wish, please come in and sit down." Reb Mendel carefully entered the dark recesses of the hut and located a shaky chair on which he lightly perched.
As his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, he was able to make out his surroundings. The shabbiness and poverty of the dwelling were all too apparent. The wooden walls were peeling and split and many of the window panes were cracked. The furniture was sparse and what there was, was literally on its last leg. Small children, unaware of their ragged appearance, scurried happily about playing their games, occasionally casting a furtive smile at their guest.
He had no more time to study the room because in walked his host, Reb Michel, exclaiming with joy, "Sholom Aleichem! How happy I am to receive greetings from the Baal Shem Tov! My wife, you must prepare a festive meal in honor of our esteemed guest. Why, it's quite an occasion when we receive regards from the Rebbe!"
His wife hurried to a corner of the room and prepared a modest repast while the two men chatted about the situation in the court of the Baal Shem Tov. Finally she reappeared with two small plates, each one bearing a small portion of fish and a slice of bread. Reb Mendel made the blessing on the bread and ate together with his host, and soon, the woman returned with steaming cups of tea. She offered Reb Mendel a sugar cube to sweeten the beverage, and he was about to slip it between his teeth, as was the custom, when he heard the children whispering: "Surely he will save some of the sugar for us. After all, it's bad manners to eat up everything. And won't that sugar be a great treat!"
Reb Mendel put down the sugar and sat without drinking, seemingly absorbed in his own thoughts. "What is wrong, my dear friend? Why don't you drink?" asked Reb Michel with great concern.
"Forgive me, but I cannot help feeling great pity for you and your family. How difficult it must be to have to endure such terrible poverty," Reb Mendel replied.
"Before you reach that conclusion, please let me explain our situation to you using a parable. Once, there was a rich man who planned a wedding for his only daughter. It was to be the most sumptuous and elegant occasion which the town had seen in years. All of the townspeople were invited, and the town's paupers, especially, were counting the days until the great feast would be served. Finally the great day of celebration arrived, and the town's poor gathered in huge numbers to enjoy themselves at the celebration.
"Suddenly, just as the bride was being led to the chupa she collapsed in a faint. The panic-stricken family surrounded the girl and tried to bring her to. The town's doctors were summoned to help, but alas, no one could revive her. The shaken wedding guests were at a loss for what to do and they began to leave in small groups. Only the paupers, who had anticipated the wedding with such longing sat down to partake of the feast. The tragedy of their host did not dampen their spirit, 'After all,' they said, 'the food is all prepared; why shouldn't we enjoy ourselves and eat it?' One of the paupers, though was a more sensitive soul, and he couldn't bring himself to even look at the food, so deeply did he identify with his host's pain."
"My wife and I, you see, are like the sensitive pauper in the story. And the wedding is meant to represent the Holy Temple where the guests, that is, the Jewish people used to gather to rejoice with their host, the Holy One, Blessed Be He. We, the sensitive guest, are so anguished by G-d's tragedy, the destruction of the Holy Temple, that we cannot bring ourselves to enjoy the offerings of this world. So, my friend, we refrain from feasting at our host's table, knowing how much He is suffering because of the pain of His children in the long and bitter exile. In this world we make do with the minimum, but we are waiting to rejoice together with Him in the Eternal Holy Temple."
In order to reach a new, higher state, logically there must be an interruption, a break between one state and the next. This "intermission" is an integral component of the action, necessary to reach the next level. Thus, even during the weeks prior to and close to Tisha B'Av itself, if our righteous Moshiach has not yet come, one should not despair. This interruption, however long, is only temporary. This pause is an actual beginning of the new building of the Third and permanent Holy Temple. Learning Torah anew - as if the Torah is being given this day - leads automatically to the new era, that of Moshiach, when, as G-d tells the Jewish people, "A New Torah will go out from Me."
(From Reflections of Redemption by Dovid Yisroel Ber Kaufmann o.b.m., to whom this column is dedicated)