Rabbi Oury Cherki

Tetzave (Haftarah) - Ideal Synthesis

Translated from Hebrew. Published at the Noahide World Center website and in Shabbat B'Shabbato.

In this week's Haftarah, the Prophet Ezekiel shows us the plan of the Temple which will be built in the future (43:10-27). The design differs in many details from that of the First and Second Temples. Even though the mitzvot of the Torah are inflexible, the Temple changes form as generations pass, because it is a reflection of the status of the heavenly world at any given time. In the cultural world, this is what is called the "ideal world" or the "Heavenly Temple", and it is in fact the main reality of existence, which is abstracted and which appears in the Temple down below, but by a process of feedback is also influenced by events in the world. The level of life at the time of the Third Temple will be a stage of perfection, and this will be reflected in the shape of the Temple and in its various parts.

The structure of the spiritual world is comparable to the structure of the human soul. The ancients said that "man is a small universe", such that the plan of the Temple can be viewed as a diagram of the soul. Therefore, one who looks at it properly can use it as a basis to diagnose what is blocked or spoiled in his or in her own soul. Therefore, it is written: "You, son of man, describe the Temple to the House of Yisrael, and let them be done with their sins, and measure the plan. And if they are ashamed by what they have done – the form of the Temple and its contents, and the exits and entrances, and its entire shape, and all its laws and forms, and all of its teachings – let them know and write it for their eyes to see, and let them preserve its entire form and all of its laws, and let them observe them." [43:10-11]. Based on this idea, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin explained the meaning of the Midrash: " 'Let them make a Temple for me and I will dwell within them' [Shemot 25:8] – it is not written 'within it' but rather 'within them' " – that G-d dwells within a person whose soul corresponds to the way that G-d dwells within the Temple.

The size of the Altar in Ezekiel's Temple is 32X32 amot at the base, which is called the "base on the ground" [43:14] in his description. This shows that serving G-d is founded on the heart (the numerical value of "lev", a heart, is 32) and on the 32 times that the Divine name Elohim appears in the description of the Creation, since the Temple is a step which completes the act of Creation. The total height of the Altar is 10 amot (two amot for the foundation, of which one amah is buried in the ground, four amot above this of Azarah, and four more amot of Ariel). The ten amot correspond to the ten declarations which were used to create the world (see Avot 5:1). This shows us that the intent of the Divine service is to bring the Creation back to its original state. The Amah that is buried in the ground represents the first declaration, "Bereishit" – in the beginning – which is not a clear statement in itself.

In the list of sacrifices for dedicating the Temple, an innovation appears as compared to the dedication of the Tabernacle and the return from the first exile. After the sacrifice of an ox for a chatat on the first day, starting from the second day a goat will be brought as a chatat before the ox which is a chatat and a ram will be brought as an olah Sacrifice. Evidently this signifies that at that stage, when the world will have reached perfection, the trait of justice will take precedence over the trait of mercy.