Menachem Zigelbaum, Beis Moshiach
Succos 5753 Like thousands of other guests who came for Tishrei, I went to my host to eat the bountiful Yom Tov meal on the second day, for there is no joy except with meat and wine. This was the first Succos in which we did not see the Rebbe standing on his platform with his dalet minim, shaking them slowly with the inner intention to draw down G-dly flow to the physical world1. It had been eight months since the Rebbe was seen by the Chassidim and this difficult galus was aggravating and painful.
However, since Rosh Hashana, there were some points of light; the glimpses of the Rebbe through the glass window on the newly constructed porch in a manner of “behold he stands behind our wall, observing from the windows and peering from the cracks.”
Then, suddenly, the surprising news spread across the community: the Rebbe is coming! The Rebbe is coming down to farbreng in the big zal! Belief and disbelief at the same time. Great confusion. Many left their Yom Tov table and ran to see the Rebbe who was just now coming down for the first time in months.
Hearts pounded with excitement.
There was tremendous pushing.
Tears of emotion and screams of surprise.
A tremendous outpouring from the innermost recesses of the heart, the depths of the soul.
The Rebbe, on his way to the platform, nodded his head and looked at the crowd; his face looks particularly royal, illuminated. “Moshiach is here!” shouted one of the bachurim when he suddenly saw the Rebbe near him.
A tremendous revelation. Moshiach is here!
[Moshiach can arrive at any moment; today and even now. Any date. Nevertheless, I chose to begin this description of Moshiach coming and “building the Mikdash in its place” with a real description, at which I was present on Succos 5753. In my experience, this event is the most comparable to the surprise and excitement and incredulity when Moshiach will suddenly show up.
Today, when you go and get this magazine from your mailbox, it is possible that you will hear a commotion on the street where you live; and you will suddenly feel that something special is happening and Moshiach is coming and revealing himself in all his glory It’s happening.
How, what, where? We won’t know how everything will play out before it happens. In the lines that follow, we can partner our fertile imaginations with the sources. Perhaps, in a moment, we will all be in Yerushalayim, as the Arizal suggested to his students that fateful erev Shabbos, to go right now to Yerushalayim and welcome Moshiach.
With that same speed, the third Beis Ha’Mikdash will be built, the very Mikdash that we studied in detail in anticipation of its rebuilding, as Hashem said, “Go and tell them, be involved in learning the form of the house and in reward for learning it, I will consider it as though they were involved in constructing the building.”
And in that moment of brilliance and splendor, the Shechina will descend with the Mikdash already “built and perfected,” and be reunited with her beloved nation of the Jewish people; the nation that longingly anticipated this encounter for thousands of years. Somehow, Hashem will also include us as partners in the construction of the great and holy “House,” upon which His Name is called. Part will descend from heaven and part will be left for us to complete, as a sign of His great love for us, so that we can be true partners with the Shechina and an integral part of the G-dly revelation in the world. Now back to the report of our on-site reporter]:
IT’S BEGINNING …
In the midst of all this commotion, the heart senses a great upheaval, a powerful and awesome tremor. It is happening now, the end of days, the day that the Jewish people waited for, for generations, thousands of years. Actually, since before Creation, when the spirit of Moshiach hovered over the water.
He has come! The great and fearful “day of Hashem” has come!
Everyone is pushing, everyone wants to see; crying; closing their eyes, disbelieving, but then opening their eyes again. It is happening!
770 is suddenly lifted up to new heights, the structure, the wooden walls saturated with decades of holiness and light, is ascending into the heavens, higher and higher. After a brief moment: Silence! Quiet in the hall! The king is sitting on his throne on a platform, looking lovingly at the thousands surrounding him in excitement and confusion; mainly turmoil. This sudden flight is what brought Beis Rabeinu sh’b’Bavel to Eretz Yisrael in some manner, details of which are as of yet undetermined, and set it down gently alongside the Third Beis Ha’Mikdash.
Wow! It is some experience to witness (after rubbing your eyes to make sure it is real) the amazing sight of the Third Beis Ha’Mikdash suddenly standing there in all of its splendor,6 overlooking the entire city of Yerushalayim.
A cool Yerushalmi breeze suddenly blows through the opaque and narrowing windows. The midday sun shines brightly; it is not too late. In a flash, Moshe and Aharon are present and directing the confused Kohanim what to wear and how. Time is pressing and the clock is consulted. The seventh hour of the day has already passed and it is too late to bring the tamid shel shachar (morning daily sacrifice), but what about the added offerings (“mussaf”) for the holiday? Moshe Rabbeinu takes out a Chumash and reads the verse to the Kohanim in a lyrical, yet compelling, voice: And on the second day, twelve young bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs in their first year, [all] unblemished.
Most surprisingly, the Azara (Temple courtyard) is empty, but it has only been a few hours since the Geula began and events are still unfolding. With the entire world in such a great (positive) tizzy, the confusion and disbelief still has some people pinching themselves, not yet having absorbed the reality that it is really and truly happening now, the long awaited Geula.
Moshe, Aharon and other tzaddikim hurried to get up before the general resurrection of the dead11. This is in order to teach the halacha and guide the Kohanim in how to do the avoda. Very likely, many Jews are going to start streaming toward the Beis Ha’Mikdash soon. Moshe Rabeinu,12 the Levite, is already anticipating the expected crowds and points at the Leviyim, members of his tribe, and directs them to take up their positions at the gates of the Mikdash to warn old and young till where they are permitted to enter, due to the holiness. How awesome is this place!
There is a bit of a need to rush. It is a great and holy day, a holiday, the day of the Geula. It is still necessary to go down to the Shiloach spring, not far from City of Dovid, to joyously draw water for the great festivities that will begin tonight, the Simchas Beis Ha’Shoeiva in conjunction with the great joy of the Geula itself.
Fortunate is the eye that witnessed all of this!
REACTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC
Obviously, this report would be incomplete without sharing some of the experiences and reactions I encountered along the way, so let’s take a step back to the point when the Beis Ha’Mikdash first made its dramatic landing:
With people streaming through the newly opened Shaar HaRachamim (which had been sealed for nearly five hundred years), I could see crowds of Jews gathering and conversing animatedly. It was readily apparent that some people were laughing and happy, with others weeping profusely.
I heard a voice behind me saying, “The laughter is laughter of joy. I turned to see an elder Radomsker Chassid, and I couldn’t help but notice his warm eyes. He shook my hand and introduced himself as “Reb Shloima.” “We waited so many years for this amazing and awesome day, when ‘Hashem has done great things with us,’ so no surprise that they are happy and laughing as it says, ‘Then our mouths will be filled with laughter.’”
I did not conceal my surprise as I pointed to those who were crying, “And what about them?”
He waved his hand knowingly, “Ah, those are tears of happiness, as the prophet of the destruction Yirmiyahu already foretold, ‘I shall bring them… a great multitude will return here. With tears they shall come and with entreaties I will transport them.’21 You know what I really think? It seems to me that this is also a rectification of the tears of exile that accompanied Am Yisrael all the years from that fateful night when they cried over nothing, after the spies returned to that great and terrible desert, and every year since then.”
Along with all of the major events unfolding in the city of Yerushalayim, where hundreds of thousands of Jews from Eretz Yisrael and around the world have been streaming for the last few hours, the work to prepare the Beis Ha’Mikdash for beginning the services of sacrifices is going full steam ahead. Time is short and there is a lot to do.
There is an additional feeling of haste, in order to express the tremendous feelings of gratitude and joy for the Geula. It is too early for individual sacrifices, because everyone needs to undergo the purification process, but it certainly is time for the communal sacrifices.
One of the Kohanim warns those working on the finishing touches of the Mizbeach (altar), “Be careful not to allow any metal to come into contact with the stones.”
One of the fellows responds, “Not necessarily. That issue does not apply anymore, since the entire prohibition is based on the fact that ‘metal shortens the days of man,’ but now that the Geula is here, there is no more death or shortening of days.24 Listen up fellows, we need to speed things up to finish the Mizbeach and to inaugurate it. It is time!”
“One second, what about the Kohanim?”
“What’s the problem?”
“What do you mean, what’s the problem? There are a lot of problems that need to be resolved; who is a real Kohein and who is not, and how can the Kohanim enter the Mikdash if they have yet to be purified from the impurity of contact with the dead? And what about the priestly garments? We don’t have any ready for them!”
The people gathered there began to show signs of concern. There actually were many halachic issues that needed solutions. Was there anybody qualified to ask? Could it be that there was nobody to consult?
One fellow piped up, “In my neighborhood there is a Rapaport family. They are members of a family of Kohanim with impeccable genealogy throughout the generations. We can call them.”
“What will be with the purification process, since they have the status of the impurity of the contact with the dead?”
Once again, an uncertain silence fell over the group, until one of those present stated emphatically, “We need to consult the Sanhedrin.” That only brought forth a murmur of disappointment from those present. As one of them put it, “Until members of the Sanhedrin are chosen, and until they all gather together as a court, will take plenty of time.”
A painful silence reigned for a brief moment. R’ Shloima the Radomsker made the point, “In truth, it is hard to believe that Hashem would want us to inaugurate the service of the Mikdash and the sacrifices in a state of impurity, although the halacha is that the communal sacrifices override the laws of purity.”
Suddenly, a young bachur got up the nerve to voice his opinion, “I don’t see any problem.” He had been sitting off to the side, and now got up with excitement. From his appearance, it was obvious that he was a Lubavitcher, one of the “soldiers of the House of Dovid” whose mission it was to stand on the front lines to greet Moshiach. His refined features indicated that he was someone who lived up to that charge, and everybody turned to hear what he had to say.
“Melech Ha’Moshiach himself said that the only solution is that Aharon HaKohen himself and his sons will be resurrected immediately at the beginning of the Geula, and they will get up along with the priestly garments. They will be in a state of ritual purity and so will their garments. So the pure ones will come and offer up sacrifices in a state of purity, and that is how everything will work out just fine.”
A young man standing nearby who had been watching the proceedings, approached the Lubavitcher bachur and shook his hand energetically. “Ah groiser shkoyach,” he said, his face showing sincere gratitude. His appearance indicated that back in galus he had identified with the Lithuanian yeshiva world.
“What are you thanking me for?”
Before he said anything in response, the fellow took out a volume of the work Tzipisa L’Yeshuah. “This is a work by Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaKohen of Radin, author of the Chofetz Chaim,” he explained as he flipped through the pages, “I want to read to you something that he writes: Surely at the time of the Geula, when they will cross over the ocean everyone will have to bring a Toda (thanksgiving) offering, or else a sick person who was healed which is common to most people. Then there will be those obligated to bring a Chatos (sin) offering who will number in the many thousands, who accidentally transgressed the laws of Shabbos and the like. All these people will run to the Kohanim to bring the sacrifices for them, and the Kohanim will run to those knowledgeable in Torah to explain to them how to properly bring the sacrifices. How much humiliation and embarrassment will accrue to each of these Torah scholars when they will not know what to answer. Certainly, what is extremely perplexing is the behavior of the Kohanim who seem to have despaired of even bothering to study the laws of the service (in the Temple). Was it not they who Hashem chose to serve Him, and every day there is the possibility that Moshiach will come that day?”
“Abba, I want to see the Kohen Gadol,” piped up the young voice of a little Yerushalmi boy standing with his father. A few of the people in the crowd reacted with a cry, “Kohen Gadol?” It was hardly any surprise that the people reacted that way, since everybody was wondering just who would become the Kohen Gadol now.Would it be Aharon himself? Or would it be the last Kohen Gadol to hold the job previously?
“Ay, ay,” exclaimed the Lubavitcher bachur as he stroked his beard thoughtfully, “you can see how important it was to learn the teachings of Moshiach on the subject, since everything is discussed there openly.”
Those present fixed their eyes upon him intently, waiting for the answer. However, he seemed to be enjoying the attention and was in no rush to respond. “Nu, nu,” they prodded.
“Melech Ha’Moshiach himself made numerous statements that seemed to indicate that Aharon himself would be the Kohen Gadol. To cite one example, he once said, ‘Immediately, we will merit to see the lighting of the Menora by Aharon Kohen Gadol in the Third Beis Ha’Mikdash.’”
The young Lubavitcher’s supreme self-confidence seemed to become deflated somewhat when one of the more learned fellows there pointed out that according to a number of views, Moshe himself retained the status of a Kohen, it was only that it did not pass along to his descendants…
The one thing that all of those gathered seemed to realize all at once was that there are, in fact, many questions and conundrums, laws and explanations of laws that seem to lean this way or that, and nobody would be able to clearly resolve all of them. Moshe Rabbeinu himself would have to make all of the major decisions and rulings. At the same time, they now all understood how important it was to have learned all of these details back in the galus days, in order to at least be familiar with the issues and possible answers and not just show up to the Geula clueless with mouth agape.
The “Litvak” once again referenced the work of the Chofetz Chaim and his pleading with people to study the relevant laws, quoting, “In our time, there is more reason to anticipate and hope for the revelation of the ‘Honor of Hashem’ in the world. Therefore, it is incumbent upon every person with an upright heart to contemplate what will happen when Moshiach comes, who will then be famed and acclaimed and who will be the truly fortunate…”
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