Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Rabbi Nachman KahanaCourtesy

Parashat Terumah 5782

Part One: “and I will dwell within them“

Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell within them(Shemot 25,8:)

There is a problem with this verse. Should it not say:

Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell within it

I suggest:

Tractate Yoma 69b relates that Ezra the Scribe, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) of the time and builder of the Second Temple, acted to eradicate the obsession for avoda zara (idolatry), which was the root cause of the first Temple’s destruction and the exile of the majority of the Jewish nation.

Ezra and his colleagues fasted for three days and nights, after which they saw the fiery form of a lion cub exiting from the Kodesh K’doshim (the Holy of Holies) of the Temple. It was the corporeal form of the human compulsion for avoda zara, which from that time on, although present, was very much weakened.

This requires an explanation:

1) Why was the dwelling place of avoda zara in the Kodesh K’doshim?

2) How did the emanation (expulsion) of the drive for avoda zara from the Kodesh K’doshim influence the national Jewish psyche?

For the answers to these questions, we have to turn to our parasha of Terumah.

Hashem commands Moshe to construct a portable Beit Mikdash – the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its accompanying vessels.

The basic structure of the Mishkan consisted of two rooms: the Kodesh K’doshim (Inner Sanctum, Holy of Holies), which was off limits to all except the Kohen Gadol four times on Yom Kippur, and the Kodesh (sanctum). This two-room structure was enclosed in a courtyard called the Azara.

The three elements of Kodesh K’doshim, Kodesh and Azara, were present in the Beit Mikdash (Temple) of King Shlomo and of Ezra the Scribe (and Herod) and will be present again in the next Beit Mikdash which we will soon build, with Hashem’s help.

At the time of the Mishkan and first Mikdash, the Kodesh K’doshim contained the Holy Ark.

However, towards the end of the first Temple period, King Yoshiyahu removed the Ark and concealed it in the depths of the Temple Mount. As a consequence, the Kodesh K’doshim in the subsequent Temples was an empty room.

In all the sacred structures, the Kodesh (the room in front of the Kodesh K’doshim) area contained three vessels: the Menorah, the Altar for burning of the aromatic Ketoret (incense), and a Table for the Lechem Ha’panim (showbread).

Upon leaving the Kodesh and passing through the Ulam (a vestibule), the kohen would enter into the Azara (courtyard), which contained the large altar for burning the innards of the respective sacrifices.

The higher-level sacrifices (Kodshei Kedoshim) such as the Olah, Chatat, and Asham, are required to be slaughtered, and their blood collected in the northern area of the Azara.

Now imagine that you are standing in front of a mirror. What do you see? Your head, two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Look down and you will see your neck and throat which lead to the internal areas of your chest and abdomen.

On the surface, you see the human structure. However, looking closer reveals one of the most profound creations in Hashem’s world – a miniature Beit Hamikdash, with all of its elements contained in the human structure.

The head is the uppermost part of the human body, consisting of the brain with its hidden and private thoughts – your kodesh k’doshim (inner sanctum). Just as in the Kodesh K’doshim of the Mishkan and Beit Hamikdash, no one can enter your thoughts without your permission. (It is interesting to note that the brain is enclosed within a double membrane, and the entrance to the Kodesh K’doshim in the second Temple was through a double curtain).

Now look at your face.

You are looking in your outer sanctum (kodesh), containing all the elements of the Temple’s Kodesh. Your eyes parallel the Menorah. Your nose with its sense of smell parallels the Altar for the aromatic Ketoret. Your mouth is the Table for the Lechem Ha’panim (showbread).

We leave your kodesh and pass through the big doors (throat and neck) leading to your azara (courtyard), which contains your digestive organs. Just as the altars of the Mishkan and Batei Hamikdash burn and digest the flesh placed upon it by the Kohanim to give sustenance and nourishment – to the world, so do your internal organs sustain and nourish your body.

When the kohen would exit the Beit Hamikdash, he would face east with his back to the west. In order to get to the north where the higher korbanot (offerings) were slaughtered, he had to turn to the left. When you look from your face down to your chest, your heart is to your left. It is there in your heart that the upper korbanot and higher emotional feelings are processed.

However, there was an area in the Temples which was holier even than the Kodesh K’doshim. At the top of the Kodesh K’doshim was a totally empty room called the “Aliya”, to which the kohen would ascend only once every seven years to examine the structure of the walls.

What parallels the Aliya room to the human structure?

Tefillin of the head, which is placed above our personal kodesh k’doshim. It contains four separate compartments, each one housing a different section of the Torah written on a small piece of parchment. The brain’s cerebral cortex is also divided into four sections:

  • The frontal lobe associated with reasoning, motor skills, higher level cognition, and expressive language.
  • The parietal lobe associated with processing tactile sensory information such as pressure, touch, and pain.
  • The temporal lobe for interpreting sounds and the language we hear.
  • And the occipital lobe associated with interpreting visual stimuli.

We are indeed all virtual, living, walking, breathing Batei Mikdash (Holy Temples)!

But there is more. The kodesh k’doshim (minds and inner thoughts) of all Jews are connected by invisible conduits to the Kodesh K’doshim of the Heavenly Beit Hamikdash, and the outer sanctums indelibly forged on our faces are connected to the Kodesh area of the heavenly Beit Hamikdash.

When Ezra the Scribe removed the yetzer hara of avoda zara from the inner sanctum of the Beit Hamikdash, the effect was its removal from all our “workstations” connected to the “main frame” in the Kodesh K’doshim in Yerushalayim.

The implications are far reaching. Something died within us when the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed. Our connection to the earthly Beit Hamikdash was cut off and we are now connected only to the heavenly one.

How can we restore the earthy Beit Hamikdash?

It can be achieved by purifying our inner and outer sanctums, and all our other organs. However, it is only in Eretz Yisrael that this re-connection can be forged, because it is only here that Hashem and the Jewish nation maintain a continuous dialogue, as stated in the Torah (Devarim 11,12):

It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

Part Two: Expulsion from Medinat Yisrael

Over the last years there has been a growing number of leaders of Israel’s radical left organizations who have made yerida (opposite of aliya). One who comes to Eretz Yisrael performs aliya [ascent]. One who leaves performs yerida [descent]. He/she leaves the country for greener, gentile pastures.

The far left newspaper, Ha’aretz, in May, 2020 printed an eye-opening article dedicated to those former leaders, and why they left and are still leaving. The article dealt with the leading radical leftist organizations which are funded by NGOs from Europe and the U.S. which seek to sever the umbilical cord that sustains the people of Israel and its connection to the holy land of Eretz Yisrael.

These organizations are well known to the public here. They include: The New Fund for Israel, the insidious Shovrim Shetika, Betzelem, Women’s Coalition for Peace, Matzpun, and too many others who bad-mouth the State, vilify Tzahal and malign all the good that is here as they maliciously feed our enemies (i.e., the NY Times) falsehoods and confidential security information.

There are reasons why they leave. 1) Their realization that the people of Israel don’t want to commit spiritual, historic and physical suicide; so, their leftist anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist messages have a hollow ring. 2) The Medina has become too “Jewish”. 3) And others are infected with the virus of self-hatem that begins with detachment from the Jewish way of life, from Shabbat , tzinut (modesty), Torah study, etc., and extends to their loathing of anything that would distinguish us from the gentiles of the world.

This is the simple explanation, but it goes much further and deeper.

The Torah (Vayika 18,28-30) states:

28: And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
29: Everyone who does any of these detestable acts will be cut off from his people.

Hashem presented the holy land unconditionally to the collective nation of Israel, the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov. However apart from the collective nation, the individual Jew lives here as a privilege, and not as an unconditional right. The privilege is extended to those of us who are aware of our great and noble ancestors and act accordingly. Those who cross the red line, seeking to sever the spiritual umbilical cord that connects the children to the motherland, are regurgitated from the holy land.

So, we find the leaders of these self-hating anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish organizations settled in nicely in Berlin, London, and Paris, indulging in their inner feelings of moral superiority for having the courage to leave the “apartheid”, elitist, belligerent, racist county called Israel for the “righteous gentiles” of the galut.

Now, if this premise of Hashem expelling unwanted individuals is accurate, then the same applies to its corollary; that Jews who staunchly remain in the galut are not yet invited and privileged by Hashem to climb the mountain of Zion. And this is indeed regrettable because there are many good people out there whose presence in mother Eretz Yisrael would be a blessing to themselves, as well as to the land and its people.

Rabbi Nachman Kahana is a Torah scholar, author, teacher and lecturer, Founder and Director of the Center for Kohanim, Co-founder of the Temple Institute, Co-founder of Atara Leyoshna – Ateret Kohanim, was rabbi of Chazon Yechezkel Synagogue – Young Israel of the Old City of Jerusalem for 32 years, and is the author of the 15-volume “Mei Menuchot” series on Tosefot, and 3-volume “With All Your Might: The Torah of Eretz Yisrael in the Weekly Parashah” (2009-2011), and “Reflections from Yerushalayim: Thoughts on the Torah, the Land and the Nation of Israel” (2019) as well as weekly parasha commentary available where he blogs at http://NachmanKahana.com