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What We Are Missing

What We Are Missing

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Who wrote the following?

Moshiach [the Messiah] will restore the kingdom of David to its glory of old, to its original sovereignty. He will build the Holy Temple and gather the dispersed of Israel. In his times, all laws [of the Torah] will be reinstated as before; the sacrifices will be offered, and the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year will be reinstituted as outlined in the Torah. Whoever does not believe in him or does not anticipate his coming, denies not only the other prophets, but also the Torah and Moses . . .

Who said this? An exiled priest who survived the destruction of the Temple? A 16th-century Safedian mystic? The Lubavitcher Rebbe?

I remember a discussion I once had about the question of a future Temple. The fellow I was debating claimed that there were different opinions on this in classical Judaism. The “right-wing rabbis,” naturally, are for it. But what about an enlightened philosopher like Maimonides? Wouldn’t he say that while the Temple may have been a necessary component of religious life in the cultural climate of those times, it is an anachronism in today’s world? (My friend was referring to a passage in Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed that could be understood this way.)

In reply, I took the 14th book of Mishneh Torah from the shelf and showed him the paragraph cited above, penned by Maimonides himself more than eight centuries ago, where he unequivocally states that the rebuilding of the Holy Temple is an integral part of the future redemption which the Jew prays for and anticipates every day of his or her life.

Why do we need a Temple? What exactly are we missing?


The human race has learned a lot over the last six thousand years. We philosophized our way to science, and then science led us through the doorway into mysticism. Along the way we invented literature, art, romantic love, economics, democracy and psychology.

But we still don’t know how to live our lives.

Put twenty people into a room. Chances are you’ll find unanimous agreement on the sanctity of life, human rights, equality, free choice, world peace, et al. But let them out of the room to go about their daily lives, and you’ll have twenty different opinions on what these things mean and how they should be applied.

In grappling with the daily choices that life presents to us, the very principles on which we agree become the basis for conflicting views and actions on everything from abortion to assisted suicide, globalization to racial profiling, vegetarianism to school prayer, and virtually every other issue to confront us.

Ideas and principles are not enough. They define the big picture, but few conflicts are about the big picture. Most of our conflicts and dilemmas are about the how, the when and the where. It’s not enough to know what’s right; we need to have intimate knowledge of rightness, to understand its moods and subtleties, its tastes and partialities.

It’s like the difference between being shown a snapshot of a person and being married to that person for twenty years. In the first case, I get a face and a name: if I met this person on the street, I’d know it is him. But do I know how he likes his coffee? Do I know what size shoes she wears, or how many hours of sleep she needs? Do I know how he smiles when he is complimented, or how he reacts when he is insulted?

It’s not enough to know that A is good and B is bad, that X is right and Y is wrong. We need to see goodness up close—close enough to discern the details. We need to live with rightness, be married to it, feel it in our bones. We need an intimate relationship with G‑d.

To a certain extent, it is possible to achieve this intimate relationship in today’s world. We have the Torah, in which G‑d placed His soul and personality, His aspirations and idiosyncrasies. The Torah is a detailed chronicle of G‑d’s desires and aversions, His likes and dislikes. The Torah gives us a guide to life that is both spiritual and practical, answering our yearning for intimacy with the divine while governing our conduct through the physical world.

But the problem is that Torah is a written document. So what do you tell someone who says, “I, too, have a ‘Torah,’ and my tradition has a different interpretation of right and wrong than yours”? And how can we ourselves be sure that we got all the nuances right, and that the written text is being optimally applied to our lives?

If only there was a place where goodness and rightness actually lived! A place with a street address and phone number. A place where we can physically go to and bring our cousins and neighbors. Look, we’d say, here’s truth, that’s goodness, this is justice, see? And they’d see.

There was such a place: the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, G‑d’s home in the physical world. That’s what we’re missing.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
Illustration by Chassidic artist Baruch Nachshon.
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Leah Florida July 23, 2015

Being Better in Times of Tech Men went to the moon. Diabetes has meds not available 100 years ago. Phones can be used in places all over the planet. People can change their appearance and look like someone else. But treating others better? The Science to make that happen looks like it hasn't fully hit the universities and big Pharma cannot make it happen either. I guess it's up to us to make it happen. Do we make it happen?
Some will make it happen when it comes with a dollar sign. Good luck rebuilding
the temple when you put dollars ahead of people. We can lead by example when we care about each other. But I don't wear a sign that says I love you more than money. Maybe I should make one. Very corny and over the top but very honest and real . Reply

Joel Beck December 10, 2013

Are we then to get all the land between the (easternmost mouth) of the Nile and the Euphrates? Does this include the sources of the Euphrates in Turkish Anatolia? I really believe that this wholesale giveaway of Arab real estate had only one purpose: to incite Arab and Moslem hatred against us. Reply

Dr. Elyas Fraenkel Isaacs, PhD,DPH,DDiv. New York December 21, 2012

Received on 9th Teves, 3rd Day of the 4 Day Teves Fast First, it is the announcement of Nebuchazzer's arrival, then there's the horrible "Greek Bible", and now today we remember Nehemiah and Ezra [hooray]..
Sunday 10 Teves is the big conclusion day and fast for most who observe. I do all four Teves fast days as an obligation to being pious and devout. Hey, these are some of the shortest sunless days of the year for the daytime Teves fasts. And after Chanukah, it's a great way to lose weight and praise the Lord in a thinner and thankfully healthier body. Reply

kenneth o. smith Denison, Tx u.s.a. August 4, 2012

G-d's Eternal Third Temple I believe with all my heart and mind that the very moment the corner stone of the Eternal Third Temple is laid in the City of Righteous Jerusalem, that all the righteous people in the world will start looking for the( moshiach) messiah with the belief that our Creator the G-d of Abraham Isaac and Jacob will dwell in His Temple,and no longer will people have a different view, but one view of the truth of G-d and His Torah. For the Divine word of G-d will come out of Zion the City of Righteous Jerusalem.This is what the prophets tell us but we have not the courage as of yet to lay down that first stone, and receive all the blessings of G-d. Reply

Anonymous wisc July 28, 2012

missing
If the Rambam wrote those words, they are probably true. As you say, inspirational words are not enough. We must live the inspirational words we speak. Tisha B'Av is the perfect time to be reminded of this. Thak you for the reminder. Reply

Anonymous Cape Town, South Africa July 25, 2012

Missing.... Are there any human words or understanding to accurately describe what the soul is feeling right now...? Reply

Vincent Howard Weatherford, TX July 25, 2012

What we are missing... I agree with Yanki Tauber. There was such a place: the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, G‑d’s home in the physical world. That’s what we’re missing. B'ruch haShem Reply

Y.R. Brooklyn, N.Y July 24, 2012

Great Article! There is nothing like visual proof of the truth!! Reply

Anonymous Prescott, AR January 7, 2012

The Temple Each of G-d's people is a brick (or stone) in his temple. This temple cannot be destroyed by man. Reply

Anonymous Forest Hills, NY/USA July 23, 2011

What We Are Missing As a non Jew I come to know this special three weeks through the website. Today Shabbat as an older Vietnamese female seeks refuge in cool place to escape the heat wave 3 digit tempature across America, I thank the LRD somehow I just love all your study about the Holy Temple, this one particularly in referring to the coming of the Moshiach. Reply

chelsea December 18, 2010

Chosen people The way I view the jews as the Chosen People is that He chose us to do the Job of bringing the world to a world that G-D can call his home...He wants US (the jews) to follow the torah and mitzvos and thereby bring the world to its perfection!! Reply

Alex NYC December 17, 2010

Collective consciousness Machiach is here all around us. It is up to all of us to become sensitive to the light. Once enough of us comprehend the vast miracles that are all around us Today, the snowball effect towards King David's consciousness will permeate the earth. Reply

Inge Reisinger December 24, 2009

A short answer to the last comment. What does it mean "to be the chosen People" this is the most wrong interpreted word. It just means that G-d chose you for his place in your hearts and he knew already from the beginning of the world that only one of yours will find him in his heart and will explain to the world to take out their pain and that there will never be this misunderstanding for the chosen People but instead of that the rest of the world will understand you much better and will praise you for your love for G-d and his commandments. Reply

Anonymous January 6, 2009

Enlightening Your article has greatly enhanced the meaning of today's fast. Thank you! May the Bais Hamikdash be built speedily in our time. Reply

Eric S. Kingston North Hollywood, CA February 23, 2006

The Chosen Jew It is written that we are the Chosen People. But chosen for what? To set an example? No. To be the living example. The example of what? The Torah. But the Torah can be interepeted in many ways. Yes, but Its Essence is One. Reply

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