Monday, February 14, 2011

Holy Garments

"You shall make holy garments for your brother Aharon, for honor and beauty."

(Exodus 28:2)
I Adar 7, 5771/February 11, 2011

We live in a virtual world. Via the internet we can travel in an instant from one "reality" to another. The film director James Cameron invested millions of dollars in developing cutting edge computer technology for the purpose of creating an illusion of three dimensions. The effect was so compelling that viewers in the theatre flinched in fear as characters and objects seem to fly out at them. "Reality" shows abound, which bear no resemblance to real reality. In fact, the modern world seems to be engaged in a vast retreat from reality, substituting true reality with virtual.
Actors can now be outfitted with special suits covered with electrodes, which, connected to a computer, can recreate a digital map of the actors every motion, upon which a virtual computer generated image of an imaginary being can be laid, creating an ever so realistic rendering of a non-existing entity. Time and space can be deconstructed and reconstructed in this virtual pixel-friendly world.
Hundreds of million dollars and some of today's very brightest minds are invested in creating an ever expanding virtual universe. But alas, the virtual worlds which are being woven before our very eyes every day, lack any real substance. And more to the point, the characters that inhabit them lack souls, and the masters of these universes are not G-d, but mortal man. These virtual worlds are no more real than the conjurings of the magicians of ancient Egypt. And its all being done in the name of profiting from what we moderns call "leisure time," a concept which itself seems to smack of paganity. Did G-d really create us mortal beings with a limited stay upon this earth so that we can while away our idle time in virtual frivolity?
Now try imagining a place where the reality is not virtual, but real, very real. This reality is so real, so true and so pure that it transcends our everyday reality and merges with the source and the light of all reality. This is the Holy Temple, a reality filled with the presence of G-d, emanating from the Holy of Holies, the most sacred spot on earth, spreading forth and reaching out, filling all the confines of the Holy Temple and its courtyards, into the holy city of Jerusalem, the sacred land of Israel and throughout the entire world. G-d's presence: in other words, reality. Real reality as G-d defines it. Not virtual reality as man imagines it.
The High Priest, the kohen gadol, is outfitted with a special garment, whose every detail is painstakingly described in Torah. The fibers of purple and blue and scarlet and gold, the ply of the threads, the weave of the fabric are all described for the finest dyers and spinners and weavers and outfitters to fashion. The twelve stones of the High Priest's breastplate and the two stones that are placed upon each shoulder are identified by Torah, for the finest jewelers and stone cutters and polishers to craft and to set in place. The tzitz, the solid gold crown which sits across the High Priest's forehead is detailed by Torah for the most highly skilled goldsmith to form and to fashion.
These priestly garments, every fiber and every flashing facet of every finely cut stone and gold chain and golden crown, upon which is engraved, "Holy to HaShem," the blue tunic and the linen pants all are plugged in and connected, not to a computer, but to G-d and also to man, every man. It is true that only the High Priest, wearer of the Priestly garments can enter the Holy of Holies, and that no other man other than he can enter. But the High Priest can only enter wearing his specially crafted garments, and that is because, not only do they express an unbreakable connection to G-d, but because they also express an impregnable bond to every man. Every fiber and every flashing facet of every finely cut stone and gold chain and golden crown, "Holy to HaShem," the blue tunic and the linen pants express and reflect every facet of our spiritual beings, our passions, our strengths and aspirations, our weaknesses and our faults. And wearing these garments of "honor and beauty," the High Priest stands before G-d in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. He stands alone before G-d, but the garment belongs to all of us. Through the wearing of these garments we all enter the reality of the Holy Temple. This is the reality that G-d has enabled us to access. Real, not virtual, pure, not defiled. Where time isn't occupied by leisure, but every moment rings true. This is the reality that truly leaps out at us and that draws us in to the presence of G-d. And what a reality this is: the Holy Temple.
Temple TalkTune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven explore this year's extra month of Adar and its precious gift of time. They also attempt to come to grips with the thought that the holy Torah might just intend every word it contains! For 2000 years of exile the idea of really rebuilding the Holy Temple was something that was over the rainbow, inaccessible, "impossible" to achieve. So the whole topic of the Holy Temple became an allegory for other things. Now that Israel has returned to her land and the concept of rebuilding the Holy Temple is not only staggeringly achievable but also historically inevitable, it's time to retire the allegories and re-understand the commandment to build the Holy Temple on its literal level. The additional month of Adar with which we are blessed this year is not for marking time, but for making the most out of the gift of time. Getting serious about the Holy Temple is one way to start.
The Golden Lamp of Queen HelenaThe Golden Lamp of Queen Helena: 1980 years ago a woman presented a precious gift to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. She brought the gift from afar. And with the gift she brought her husband and her children. The gift found its place in the Holy Temple and the woman and her family made the city of Jerusalem their new home. The woman's name was Helena and she was the queen of Adiabene, a small nation found in what is present day Iraq. Immersed in the prevailing Roman pagan culture, Queen Helena was searching for a way of life that was true and moral. She searched and she discovered the One G-d of Israel. Queen Helena and her family left their pagan ways and adopted the faith of Israel as their faith and the Torah of Israel as their truth.
We invite all who wish to play a part in the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to join us in recreating the golden lamp, Queen Helena's gift to the Holy Temple. Please click here.
Fulfilling the CommandmentThis week also features the Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Building the Holy Temple, Part VIII: Fulfilling the Commandment: What exactly did Rashi, the great commentator, say concerning the building of the third Holy Temple, and how are we to understand his words? When is he referring to the physical Holy Temple, and when is he referring to the spiritual essence of the Holy Temple." (This teaching was initially posted in December 2009. Rabbi Richman will soon be recording new teachings.) Click here to view.
Blueprints for The Holy TempleNow Presenting the Greatest Progress Toward the Rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Modern History: Blueprints for The Holy Temple: In his recent USA speaking engagement tour, (January 2011), Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute revealed to the public for the very first time detailed construction plans for the Chamber of Hewn Stone: the seat of the Great Sanhedrin which is a central component of the Holy Temple complex on the Temple Mount. These complete and highly intricate plans constitute the first stage of an historical undertaking of the Temple Institute: the drafting of blueprints for the entire Holy Temple complex. To view the blueprints, please click here.
Computer-generated Walk-throughView this short video and experience a virtual computer-generated walk-through of the Sanhedrin Chamber of Hewn Stone, based on the newly drawn up blueprints. Click here.
Parashat HashavuaOnly the sons of Aharon can wear the priestly garments and only while they are wearing the priestly garments can they serve in the Holy Temple as priests, enter the Temple Sanctuary and perform the Divine service. Yet elsewhere in Torah all of Israel is described as a “kingdom of priests.” (Exodus 19:6) Is there really a way in which each one of us can serve in the capacity of priest? Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Tetzave (Exodus 27:20-30:10).
Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
  Yitzchak Reuven
  The Temple Institute

No comments: