Av 5762 – The Temple Mount

1 Av 5762

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky:

Okay, this isn’t really a kiruv question but it’s bothering me. Why isn’t the kotel one of the places of the greatest tumah on earth? Wait! Don’t put me in chairem quite yet. According to my understanding, tumah occurs when there’s a presence of kedusha and then it’s removed. Like a corspe, that once carried a soul with free will and held the ability to sanctify the world which is reduced to a disintegrating body after death.

Likewise with the temple mount: the epicenter of the spritual world containing the revealed presence of G-d on earth is now a mosque, second to a forty foot black box in Mecca and some shrine in Medina.

So why is it still holy?

Is it like a sick person rather than a dead one? Reduced in its power and capability because of the layers and shields and distance we have placed between ourselves and G-d, even though G-d is still there?

There’s a horrible darkness on the other side of that wall in my mental landscape. So what is the status of the temple mount in this respect?

Thank you.

Seminary withheld

Dear Elisheva,

Good to hear from you. And a special hello to all my many JemSem readers. It has been a long time, since we have gotten together in cyberspace, the fault being mine. Not because I’m so busy; Rabbi Tendler is definitely busier than I am, but rather because I just manage my time poorly. However after Rabbi Nissel published the beautiful book, “Jerusalem Jems” and I had an opportunity to read so many of my responses which I found absolutely brilliant, I decided that I had to make time for good old JemSem.

But enough about me. You are of course right that in spiritual matters, just as in physical matters, nature abhors a vacuum. As such where there was life and none now, such as a dead body or a ruined building, tumah rushes in to fill the space.

As you yourself surmised however, the makom hamikdash isn’t dead. The shechinah never leaves the western wall, the kedusha and all of the halachos associated with it, remain in place. The reason we have always flocked to this place is because its kedusha never leaves.

The place of the kedosh hakadoshim, according to many poskim is under the Dome of the rock. The rock under that dome is then the even hashisia, the foundation rock of the universe. It is the place where the universe was formed and spread out. That relationship remains true to our day, and that’s why all our tefillos go to that place, before ascending to Heaven.

On Sukkos we say in regard to the Bais HaMikdash “harachaman hu yakim lanu ess sukkas Dovid hanofeles”, “Hashem put back up the Sukkah of Dovid that fell”. Why a sukka? Because in halacha, if a building collapses and you rebuild it, it is a new building. But a sukka that falls down is the same sukka when it is put back up. We don’t want a new Bais Hamikdash, we want the original Bais Hamikdash, the one that is still on the Har HaBayis waiting for us.

May we see it rebuilt speedily in our days.

Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky