The Mishnah mentions ten levels of holiness within Eretz Yisrael: the walled cities, the city of Jerusalem, Mount Moriah, the area within the surrounding rampart, the Women’s Courtyard, the Courtyard of the Israelites, the Priestly Courtyard, the area between the altar and the Entrance Hall to the Sanctuary, the building of the Sanctuary, and the Holy of Holies.
There are two dimensions to these levels of holiness: a) that each is an independent entity with laws relating to its own individual sphere; b) that these levels are each interrelated with the other.
To explain the latter concept: The lower levels of holiness depend on the higher levels — i.e., the entire sanctity of Jerusalem and the Beis HaMikdash stems from the fact that the Holy of Holies is the resting place for the Divine Presence. Because G‑d manifests His presence in the Holy of Holies, the nine lesser rungs of holiness are endowed with sanctity.
Conversely, it can be explained that the lower rungs of holiness prepare for the higher rung. For the more elevated levels of holiness cannot become manifest in our material world unless settings are created for them.
Do Our Rabbis See These Levels of Sanctity as Dependent on Each Other
From a halachic perspective, the nature of this interdependence is a matter of question. To cite an example: There are opinions that the conquest of the Beis HaMikdash by the gentiles nullified its sanctity. Nevertheless, even according to this view, when the gentiles had conquered the exterior portions of the Beis HaMikdash complex, the fact that they had nullified the holiness of these portions did not affect the sanctity of the inner portions of the building. Even at this time, it was possible to eat sacrifices of the highest order in the Sanctuary building. From this ruling, we see that even when the lower levels of sanctity were nullified, the higher levels remained intact.
We find, however, other views among our Rabbis. For example, Tosafos states: “Jerusalem was sanctified only because of the Beis [HaMikdash]. How is it possible to say that the sanctity of the Beis [HaMikdash] will be nullified, and the sanctity of Jerusalem will remain?” This clearly implies that the lower level of holiness cannot remain intact if the higher level is nullified.
When All Authorities Accept the Concept of Interdependence
There are several ways to resolve this issue. Even the authorities which maintain that each level of holiness has an independent standing, accept a certain measure of interdependence; to cite an example — the time of the initial manifestation of the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash. At that time, the holiness of the lower levels was derived from the higher levels, and conversely, the lower levels were necessary for the holiness of the higher levels to be realized. This, however, held true only at the time of the dedication of the Beis HaMikdash. Afterwards, these authorities maintain, when every particular rung of holiness had been endowed with its sanctity, that sanctity would remain for all time, independent of any connection to the other rungs of holiness.
Moreover, it can be explained that even the authorities that conceive of every separate rung as possessing an independent dimension of holiness, agree that when all ten levels of holiness exist, every particular level is endowed with a greater and more complete measure of sanctity.
May we soon merit the time when all these ten levels become manifest, with the rebuilding of the walled cities throughout Eretz Yisrael, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. And may this take place in the immediate future.
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVIII, p. 207, Vol. XXXI, Parshas Terumah