Weekly Letter: What is Our Task in Rebuilding the Third Beis Hamikdash?

During this period of the Three Weeks of mourning – the Rebbe’s positive message of hope and good tidings in this letter underlines the rebuilding of the Third Beis Hamikdosh.

What was our role, asks the Rebbe, in the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh – both the spiritual and the physical one and what is our task in the rebuilding of the third spiritual and physical Beis Hamikdosh?

The letter is from a forthcoming volume of The Letter and the Spirit.

                                                                                                                           By the Grace of G-d

                                                                                                                           Brooklyn, N.Y.

(A letter by the Rebbe about the rebuilding of the Beth Hamikdosh – with the Rebbe’s handwritten notations and corrections. English handwritten notations near the Rebbe’s are those of Rabbi Nissan Mindel and are in parenthesis (  ). Those English notations and corrections inserted by the Rebbe are also in parenthesis (  ).  )

It is a very long time since I saw (you ) in shul,  (the proper place for a Jewish get-together). I trust you are in good health and that everything is well with you.

Though we are now observing the sad period of the “Nine Days,” they nevertheless contain a message of hope and good tidings. Indeed, we have been promised that the sad period of the 17th of Tammuz through the 9th of Av will be converted into a period of rejoicing when our Righteous Redeemer will come. (speedily in our time, Amen).

The preparation for that happy time is (partly) in the observance of mourning for our lost Beth Hamikdosh in the proper manner.

In the days of old, when the Beth Hamikdosh stood in its glory, the physical edifice of wood and stone was   (also) the visible symbol of the spiritual sanctuary within us. The physical Beth Hamikdosh could last only as long as the spiritual counterpart was (existing).

When the first Beth Hamikdosh was destroyed – (the spiritual one by the Jews and the physical one subsequently by N.N.), our people in the Babylonian exile had a dual mission; first to rebuild the spiritual sanctuary and then to erect the physical edifice, the Second Beth Hamikdosh. This too lasted only as long as the spiritual sanctuary was preserved and its destruction was the inevitable result of the spiritual relapse. 

But with regard to the Third Beth Hamikdosh, G-d let us know that our task of rebuilding will be (essentially, and according to many opinions wholly,) confined to the spiritual one only. G-d Himself will provide the physical counterpart. There is indeed an authoritative opinion that the Third Beth Hamikdosh will appear miraculously by the work of G-d.

However, the spiritual sanctuary must be rebuilt by our efforts, through Teshuvah, Torah and Mitzvos. Each spiritual “brick” that everyone of (the Jews) will contribute will be indestructible (and) the process of this spiritual “brick-laying” began at the moment when the last (part) of the Beth Hamikdosh (caught fire). 

This is (one of) the meanings of the Midrashic saying (Echah Rabba) that at the (very) moment when the Beth Hamikdosh was destroyed Messiah was born (and even the) sigh that a Jew emits from the depth of (his) heart mourning for the loss of the Beth Hamikdosh, (adds a brick) of the spiritual sanctuary.

It is well to remember that the main body of the spiritual sanctuary which we were to rebuild in the long terrible exile (is) already (erected) by the early generations of the spiritual giants of our people.  To us has been left a comparatively smaller part of it. Nevertheless our small share must be imbued with the same sanctity as theirs.

The practical lesson is that every constructive, (constructive according to Torah) deed we are about to do, must have the mental conviction that we are contributing (one of) the final “brick(s)” to (the) all-embracing indestructible sanctuary of our people and the world at large. The responses in terms of humility and self-sacrifice, which such an attitude must call forth in us, is obvious.  It should permeate every action (even one that might appear small in our physical sight) in our daily life, for each one of us has his share (to erect) in the rebuilding of the spiritual sanctuary, (and in the physical one which will follow immediately.  May we see also the rebuilding of the physical Beth Hamikdosh).

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