Why haven’t we rebuilt a Third Temple?

Posted on Oct 2, 2013 | 5 comments

Question submitted to “Ask the Rabbi” by:

Name: Eliana

City: Los Angeles, CA

Full Question:

Why haven’t we rebuilt the Third Temple?

Does is have to do with politics or something else?”

Rabbi Tully Bryks responds:

3rd Beis HaMikdash

Even if we accept that one is not only permitted to come to Israel, but that there is also some sort of Mitzvah in doing so (this in it of itself is subject to debate), the question of the rebuilding the Third Beis HaMikdash (Temple) contains many potential uncertainties:

  • As of 2012, 42.9% of the world Jewish population lives in Israel.[1] Perhaps the Mitzvah to build the Third Beis HaMikdash only kicks in after the majority of Jews live in Israel?[2]
  • Perhaps the Mitzvah to build the Third Beis HaMikdash only kicks in after the Mashiach comes?[3]
  • Perhaps we may not build the Third Beis Hamikdash until Amelek (personification of evil in this world) is eradicated?[4]
  • Perhaps we may not build the Third Beis HaMikdash until a prophet instructs us to?[5]
  • Perhaps the Third Beis Hamikdash would actually descend from heaven?[6]

Even if one concludes that we are allowed and/or there is a Mitzvah for us to build the Third Beis HaMikdash today, other questions and complications would still remain:

  • Being that we are in a state of “Tumah” (Spiritual impurity), Sign forbidding entry to Temple Mountwe are not permitted on certain areas of the Temple mount. Since we have been in exile for so long, there is not a clear Mesorah (tradition) as to which areas we are permitted to stand on. While some rabbis are confident that they have figured out which areas we may stand on, disagreement remains.
  • In order for the Kohanim (Priests) to do their work in the Third Beis Hamikdash, they would be required to wear the Bigdei Kehuna (priestly garments). Included among their wardrobe is the thread of Techeles (“blue” string). How to obtain Techeles is also a source of debate, with some authorities maintaining that we simply don’t know how to properly obtain it.
  • There are numerous intricate laws associated with the building of, and worship within, the Third Beis Hamikdash. As with many others areas of Jewish law, there are various conflicting opinions in both the Talmud and subsequent commentators as to how to properly fulfill these laws. But when it comes to laws that we have always observed for the past 3,300 years, we know how to observe these laws despite the conflicting opinions. Even young children know what a Lulav Esrog and Tefilin look like. They know that Shabbos starts on Friday night rather than on Saturday morning. But when it comes to laws concerning the Beis Hamikdash, some of which have not been practiced in 2,000 years, and those unique to the Third Beis HaMidash have never been practiced, there is no clear Mesorah as to which opinions we follow for each of the many different laws.

In conclusion, aside from the challenging political realities that you referenced in your question, there are many potential reasons why there is not a universal push among rabbis to start building the Third Beis HaMikdash. To this end, on March 10, 2010, the Chief Rabbi of Israel at the time declared, “We have no intention of rebuilding the temple,… unless the Almighty God descends it from the heavens.”

But once the Mashiach comes, we will achieve a utopia greater than we can possibly imagine, where the “lion will lie down with the lamb.”[7] However, G-d is waiting for us to correct the sin which led us to exile to begin with – baseless hatred among Jews[8]. And if we still can’t even get along with each other, it’s no wonder that we have difficulty getting along with our neighbors.

To learn more about this topic, click on any of the suggestions below:

Book - Jerusalem Eye of the Universe
Book - The Beit Hamikdash
software - Mishkan

[1] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewpop.html

[2] Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah #95

[3] Rambam (Maimonides) hilchos Melachim, 11:1

[4] Talmud, Sanhedrin, 20B

[5] Ramban (Nachmonides), Devarim (Deuteronomy), 12:5

[6] Beginning of Tractate Midos

[7] Yishayahu, 11:6

[8] Talmud, Yoma 9B

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    5 Comments

  1. As of 2012, 42.9% of the world Jewish population lives in Israel. Perhaps the Mitzvah to build the Third Beis HaMikdash only kicks in after the majority of Jews live in Israel?

    As of now the worlds population is in Israel

    Perhaps the Mitzvah to build the Third Beis HaMikdash only kicks in after the Mashiach comes?

    We would start with the building, and Hashem would end it.

    Perhaps we may not build the Third Beis Hamikdash until Amelek (personification of evil in this world) is eradicated?

    Amelek is obviously destroyed, being that we can’t find any of them, who in the last few hundred years killed Amalak?

    Perhaps we may not build the Third Beis HaMikdash until a prophet instructs us to?

    This could be the only reason preventing us. Mashiach actually coming and building it.

    Perhaps the Third Beis Hamikdash would actually descend from heaven?

    Read above. “We would start with the building, and Hashem would end it.”

    • *As of now the worlds Jewish population is in Israel

  2. It isn’t that Israel can’t get along with its neighbors. This was a poor analogy. It’s that Orthodox Islam can’t abide a Jewish state.

    • Rabbi Tully Bryks

      I fully agree with you that the Jewish people are not the aggressors and that terrorists supposedly acting in the name of G-d are terrorizing Israel, along with many countries throughout the world and even their own people. In contrast, Israel provides freedom of worship to all religions.
      My main point based on the Talmud, is that we believe that G-d allows this oppression to take place because we have not yet corrected the sin of baseless hatred among our people. As soon as we do, we will witness an end to all war and to all bloodshed.
      But until we correct this moral weakness within us, then we are also to blame and we need to look inward to correct our own inadequacies.

  3. The Natan Foundation for the Restoration of the Temple of Jerusalem
    on its Authentic Site
    - i.e. “Site” located to the South,
    downstream from the current Site of the “Haram” –
    (“Haram” = Esplanade of Mosques Al Aqsa & Dome of the Rock)

    * Explanation Summary *

    1 / Archaeological Explanation :

    This Authentic Site of the Temple is revealed and demonstrated by the Discovery and the detailed unpublished Study, of the Temple Hydraulic System :
    < This Temple Hydraulic System, absolutely unique in Antiquity, had been designed, by the Jewish Priests-Engineers, with methodical Cascades, in strict accordance with the mandatory Bible (Torah) Laws:
    < Indeed these Bible Laws prescribed the very precise Purification Rituals within the Sanctuary, by immersion of the whole body in ever-flowing Waters.
    These "Purification Living Waters" were conveyed, by gravitation, to the Temple through aqueducts and underground channels, without any interruption, or intervention of any handled containers, and this, from Sources, located upstream from Jerusalem, in the region of Etam (Bethlehem surroundings).
    < This ancient Temple Hydraulic Organization, meticulously carved inside the bedrock of the "Haram", has been miraculously preserved almost intact, to date.
    < Moreover, this Temple Hydraulic System has been carefully studied, and all arithmetic and topographic data have been recorded with high precision, by the Western Archaeologists of the 19th century (who have been the only Scientists ever allowed to explore the bedrock of the "Haram" (during a brief period of fifty years, at the end of the Ottoman Empire).

    2 / Historic Explanation:

    < However, this Site of the nowadays "Haram" had been, in reality, the Site of the ancient Jewish Fortress, which, since King Solomon, had always dominated and protected the Temple, upstream; at the strategic top of the rocky outcrop of the antique City of King David.
    And in the Rocky entrails of this protecting Citadel, had been installed the complex "Water Tower" purifying the Temple.
    < In 135, "Divine" Roman Emperor Hadrian crushed ruthlessly, in floods of blood, the last Revolt of the Jews, led by Bar Kockba and Rabbi Akiba (the main Architect of the Mishnah) who aimed at rebuilding their Temple of the "One God", which had been destroyed by (Divine) Titus in 70.
    Jerusalem was then emptied by of all its inhabitants (Jews and Jewish Christians), and was completely repopulated by Pagans (mostly Syrians).
    Then, Divine Hadrian made completely disappear the Site of the Temple of the Jews.
    Jerusalem became a Roman colony, called Aelia Capitolina.
    < For about two centuries, the Jews and Jewish Christians were banned from even approaching the area of Jerusalem, and any suspect offender (denounced by his circumcision) was immediately put to death.
    This masterful Topographic Lobotomy, thus operated by Divine Hadrian, has been fully successful, so far…

    Natan

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