An open letter to a rabbi in Florida who asked a member of his congregation, who had recently merited to ascend the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, “What’s this obsession with the Temple Mount?”
In Jewish fashion, I’ll answer your question with a few questions; the real question being: “Why aren’t you obsessed with the Temple Mount?”
Did you forget? Forget the reason that you and your fellow Jews were chosen? As you know, there is a reason the Torah was given. There is a reason your ancestors were delivered from Egypt. There is a reason the Land of Israel was given to the Jews. But I fear you might have forgotten the bottom-line reason; to build the Temple.
Perhaps since you live in Florida, at times you feel like you already live in paradise. But while you live in Florida not obsessing about the Temple Mount, others of us not only obsess about the Temple Mount, but long for what should be standing atop the Temple Mount. And every day that passes and the Temple remains unbuilt, we agonize for ourselves and for our fellow man.
“Ah, the Temple.” you might reply, “That was then, this is now.” And you’re probably right. I mean it was one thing for your ancestors like Isaiah to obsess over the Temple. But a Jew in 2013? It’s almost crazy, maybe even a little embarrassing to think that the Temple could somehow fit into our modern society, huh? After all, a rebuilt Temple would mean, ahem, I’ll whisper it . . . animal sacrifices. How antiquated and barbaric is that? After all, as a modern society we have evolved into such civilized people.
Or have we? I sometimes can’t fathom the news I hear. I can’t fathom how barbaric mankind is. Do you ever lay awake at night, rabbi, wondering when the barbarism is going to end? Do you ever wonder what would happen if man once again participated in the animal sacrifices at the Temple? Do you think that the holy service of the Temple would awaken mankind from his stuporous enslavement to his animal instinct and remind him that he is a holy soul? If only, rabbi. If only.
Do you ever think about the Temple when you hear news from around the world? I do. When I hear of businessmen who take trips to Thailand to participate in sexual perversions with children that is beyond imagination, I mourn for the Temple. When I hear of the brothels in India where little girls are caged prostitutes yet the government turns a blind eye because it is a money-making business, I mourn for the Temple. When I hear of women and girls who take up to 30 minutes to urinate due to pain induced from female “circumcision,” I mourn for the Temple. When I hear of homeless children in sub-zero temperatures in the Ukraine living in underground manholes, I mourn for the Temple. When I hear about teenagers medicated on anti-depressants walking into schools and shooting children, I mourn for the Temple.
You know as well as I do that the world we live in is less than perfect, to say the least. Do you ever wonder what colors really look like? What food really tastes like? What music really sounds like? What love really feels like? What being connected to Hashem could really be like if this world were not so diminished? I do.
Do you ever miss Hashem? Do you ever have a momentary flash when the veil is lifted and you experience a glimpse of What and Who He really is? A chilling, but exhilarating glimpse of His Oneness. If you were the obsessive type, those moments would make you long for the Temple even more.
Do you ever feel frustrated because the daily routines of life keep you from being more active in working towards building the Temple? Do you ever think to yourself that if the Temple is not built in your lifetime, then you will have failed at what is most important? You would feel that frustration, at times, if you became an obsessor.
Do you ever daydream about the Temple being built in your lifetime? Would it interest you to know that a fourteen year-old non-Jew living in the Bible-belt does? When her teacher asked the class to envision what a world at peace would be like, she envisioned the rebuilt Temple? Would you call her obsessed? Or do you think that perhaps she sees the world a little more clearly than adults do? Perhaps she knows that we are beyond politicians and policies fixing our world. Perhaps she senses that we are to the point of Isaiah’s vision of a rebuilt Temple ushering in world peace being our only hope.
So again, I ask rabbi, why aren’t you obsessed with the Temple Mount? I assume you must be surrounded by Torah and Torah observant people who continually usher Hashem’s presence in the world. But deep down, you must know that is not enough. If not for your sake or your Torah community’s sake, then isn’t it time for you to become obsessed for the world’s sake? Most of the world is living in abject desolation, devoid of the knowledge, much less the Presence of Hashem. So frankly, the world could use a few more rabbis obsessed with the answer to that void; obsessed with the Temple Mount.
I’ll end with one last question. Have you ever seen or heard the desperate pleas and cries of people whose loved ones, G-d forbid, are missing? They become a bit obsessed with finding their loved ones. Which is why, I suppose you could say, people are obsessed with the Temple Mount. Their dearest Loved One is missing from this world. And rebuilding the Temple is the only thing that will guarantee His return.