People love looking forward to something; a vacation, the Super Bowl, or the day their kids (finally) leave for sleepaway camp. Everyone has their own list... but what about the world. Yes, the world. What should the world be looking forward to?
The Midrash teaches (Midrash Rabbah, Ba’Midbar 1) that “if the nations of the world realized the value of the Bet Ha’Mikdash to all of humanity, they would surround it with their armies and guard it for the Jews!”
In the book of Yeshayahu, there is an incredible prophecy; (Chapter 56, verse 7) “My House will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” We say this passuk many times a year, before the beautiful prayer of “Shema Kolenu”. We are stating, in very clear words, that the awesome place we want rebuilt – the holy Bet Ha’Mikdash - is not only for the Jewish nation… but for the entire world as well!
This is (or should be) the #1 item on “The world’s wish list” … for the Jews to return home and build the 3rd and final Temple in Jerusalem. There’s only one problem. Not only is this not item #1, the world is doing everything they can to make sure it does not happen at all.
Let me tell you about something that happened just 2 months ago. If not for Covid, this would have been the biggest story in the news. Unfortunately, it was not reported in any major media outlet – on both sides of the political spectrum. Sorry, but we can’t just blame this on CNN or Whoopi Goldberg.
The United Nations held a special vote on December 1, 2021, and here are the results: 129 countries voted that Israel does not have any ties to the Temple Mount. Those same 129 countries affirmed that the Temple Mount is to be recognized only by its Muslim name, al-Haram al-Sharif. Obviously, those 129 countries failed history class because Islam was founded in the 7th Century – and the first Bet Ha’Mikdash was built 1,400 years before that – but, as they say, don’t confuse me with the facts.
In case you are interested; who voted against this resolution that rewrites history? 11 countries including USA, Hungary and the Czech Republic… and who abstained? 31 countries including the United Kingdom, Kenya and Ukraine. (By the way, everyone’s new best friend – and the one with the most exciting glatt kosher, mehadrin, kitniyot free Pesach program – the United Arab Emirates – voted in support of this bill. But I thought they loved us?? I’m so confused…)
Now comes the important part of this article: Who do we blame? Whose fault is it that 129 countries voted this way? Allow me to be very clear with my answer; I don’t blame any of the 129 countries. How can Bangladesh and South Africa feel that the Temple Mount is an integral part of the Jewish Nation… if most of the Jewish Nation doesn’t feel that way? 70% of American Jews have never been to Israel even once in their life and have no desire to do so… so what do we expect from Cuba and Japan?
But let’s talk about the 30% who do come to Israel. Ask them what is the #1 holiest site in Israel today and I guarantee you that 98% will say “the Kotel”. Why is that? Why won’t we admit that the “Makom Ha’Mikdash” – the place of the Temple – is the holiest, most special place for Jews… and all of mankind? Don’t misunderstand me. I am not getting into the discussion of going up to Har Ha’Bayit or not. I’m simply trying to understand why this awesome place, described in our holy books as “where Heaven kisses earth” is not on most Jew’s radar.
What happens within 24 hours of landing in Israel? You rush to the Kotel, then Café Rimon in Mamilla. After that it’s Machane Yehuda and Mea Shearim for some shopping, Aroma for coffee, back to the Kotel and then Papagaio for dinner. How many times have you stopped, looked at the desecration on the Temple Mount, and shed a tear? Do you think mourning over the destruction of the Bet Ha’Mikdash is limited just to Tisha b’Av? I have no problem with davening at the Kotel but at least feel bad that you are in the garden and not in the palace.
The 129 countries of the world want you to remain in the garden. They want to disconnect you from your most cherished and special place. They want you to forget about it and simply sing it as a song; “Next Year in Jerusalem…” Unfortunately, many of us have already done this and while we wouldn’t actively vote with Iran or Indonesia, our actions tell a different story.
Dearest friends: stop blaming the world and start realizing that it’s all about us. How do we feel about Har Ha’Bayit? How connected are we to the Makom Ha’Mikdash? How many of us can look at a drawing of the Bet Ha’Mikdash and correctly identify many of the areas? We are now reading the Torah portions that deal with the Mishkan – which is a miniature Bet Ha’Mikdash – and its vital we make those Torah portions real.
Don’t let the 129 countries of the world win. Focus on the Bet Ha’Mikdash and make sure you understand the connection between our Nation, our future, our destiny, and this great and awesome place. And most importantly of all, don’t just sing about it… make sure you live it as well!