Tetzave – If You Believe it, it Will Come

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The beginning of this week’s haftorah for the Torah portion of Tetzave writes, “You, Son of man, describe the House to the House of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; let them measure its plan. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, let them know the form of the House and its scheme, its exits and its entrances, and all its forms, and all its laws and all its teachings, and write it down in their sight so that they keep the whole form thereof and the laws thereof, and do them. This is the teaching of the House; Upon the top of the mountain, all its boundary round about shall be most holy; behold, this is the teaching of the House” (Yechezkel 43:10-12).

Just as the end of the Torah portion elucidates the dimensions of the Incense Alter, so too the haftorah details the dimensions of the alter that will be built in the times of the Third Beis HaMikdash, according to the Radak, may it come speedily in our days.
The Radak says that Hashem told Yechezkel to speak to the exiles of the First Beis HaMikdash after its destruction and tell them that they were at fault for the destruction of this temple. However, a future Temple will never be destroyed because they will not sin, as it says, ‘They will distance their sins, and I will live among them forever.’ They should calculate and measure the schematics of this future temple so that they can picture it and prepare it as a sign, for it will be made in the future, when The Final Redemption takes place, and the dead will be resurrected. They should prepare it now as a sign that those who see these diagrams will live during building of this future House. This is one of the proofs for the resurrection of the dead; “and if they are ashamed” of all they had done then they should be informed of the dimensions and looks of the temple. “In their sight” that they will see the building of the temple in the future, and they will do it, but if they aren’t [ashamed, in order to repent,] then they will not [see it]. They should keep them in their hearts and believe in them, for then they will make the buildings, forms, and laws in the future. If they will not keep them in their heart and they will not believe, then they will not do them. For this is the attribute of Hashem, The Holy One Blessed Be He; He pays a person measure for measure. Whoever believes in the coming of the redemption will merit to be redeemed, and if he does not believe he does not merit it. So too, if he believes in the resurrection of the dead he will merit to be resurrected and if he does not believe he will not merit it. One cannot say “And they shall make it” is talking about making the Second Beis HaMikdash when the exiles returned from Bavel because there were many aspects of the building mentioned here which was not in the Second Beis HaMikdash. Therefore it must be referring to building in the future, and it says specifically “They shall make it” as a great proof for the resurrection of the dead. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
What if no one would believe in the Final Redemption, the building of the Third Beis HaMikdash, and the resurrection of the dead? It would seem from this Radak that they would never happen. Would that mean the atheists and non-believers are correct? G-D forbid, of course not! It would just be a tragedy!!
But how could that be? How does this make sense? It would seem that belief is the foundation of reality and existence in this world. Of course, if Hashem says something will happen it will happen, or has happened above time and this world; but that does not mean it has to manifest itself in this world if we don’t give it a chance for it to happen. That is part of our free choice. But that does not mean that the Torah is wrong, Hashem really doesn’t exist, and our belief system is flawed. Rather it means we didn’t earn or deserve what Hashem has in store for us.

Hashem is ready and willing to give all that has been promised and guaranteed to happen, which we believe through mesora, tradition, from generation to generation. The process just has to play out for us to ultimately deserve it. Just as Noach and his family were the only believers in their generation and were the only ones saved from world destruction, so too Hashem is ready and willing to bring on the Final Redemption, resurrect the dead, and build the Third Beis HaMikdash, even for one person, if he was the only one to believe it.

However, we have the strength and fortitude to never give up and to be steadfast to our belief system, and G-D willing, speedily in our days there shall be a sanctification of Hashem’s Holy Name with millions, if not billions of believers coming forth in the End Days for the Final Redemption, resurrection of the dead, and the building of the third and final everlasting Holy Temple. May it happen smoothly and peacefully sooner than later!

Chukas – How Much Do You Believe In Hashem?

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There is a book mentioned in this week’s Torah portion of Chukas called “The Book of Wars of Hashem” (Bamidbar 21:14). What is this book? Where is it today?  Why is Hashem quoting it in His Torah? The Ibn Ezra is of the opinion that it is a separate book and written inside it are the wars of Hashem that were waged for His G-D fearing followers. It began being compiled in the days of Avraham Avinu.  This book and  many other books  have been lost to antiquity, like The Words of Nosson and Ido, or The Chronicles of Kings of Israel, as well as the Songs of Shlomo and his Parables. The Daas Zekeinim adds that “The Book of Wars of Hashem” mentions the victory of Sihon over Moav, which the Torah just alluded to in the previous pasuk; the point being that Hashem orchestrated that one nation would fall into the hands of the other.

However the Ramban has a slightly different take on this, which could be an eyeopener. It takes us to task for how much we actively relate to belief in Hashem. The Ramban says that the simple understanding of “The Book of Wars of Hashem” is that in those generations there were intellectuals who wrote about the great wars of the time, and it took place in every generation. The authors of these books were called Storytellers, for there were many parables and highfalutin phrases mentioned inside these books. They attributed the incredible victories in those wars to Hashem because it was in fact the truth. The victory of Sihon over Moav was wondrous in their eyes and therefore they wrote it in this book. (Click here for the Hebrew text.)
These intellectuals were historians who do not seem to be Jewish based on the context of the Ramban, and though they lived in a heavily polytheistic time in history they were able to attribute the incredibly wondrous battles and victories, even amongst two non-Jewish neighboring nations, to Hashem. Why? Because it was the truth!

What a curious phenomenon! Imagine a historian writing a book on the history of American wars, The Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, The Civil War, America’s involvement in the two World Wars, etc. Do you think he would call it “G-D’s Wars”?!

But in fact, if you think about it, it is the truth, as the Daas Zekeinim points out: Hashem enabled one side to fall into the hands of the other. What is incredible is that those historians back in the day were able to recognize that and acknowledge it. Granted the whole world at the time heard and felt the rumbles of the miracles at the Red Sea and at Mount Sinai, but that was almost forty years previous, and they were still very involved in their worship of idols. It took intellectuals to think logically about what the truth was; but it took a lot of courage for those intellectuals to admit and publicize it. For that matter it was worth it to Hashem to acknowledge them in His Torah.

All the more so us Jews, the personal princes and princesses of The King Of All Kings, who have an even more personal relationship with G-D, b’chasdei Hashem, should find and acknowledge the kindness of Hashem in every step of our lives.