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Is there a commandment incumbent on the Jewish ppl to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash? Does that command only apply if they have sovereignty in that specific area?

  • Just a matter of interest how would they get around people being tuma in order to build it? – Daniel Ross Dec 31 '18 at 19:01
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    @Daniel Temple Tuma prohibitions don't apply to Temple building/use when most Jews are impure – Double AA Dec 31 '18 at 19:18
  • @Double AA interesting as to why the Israeli chief rabbinate says no on the Temple Mount. I have heard that they could serve certain Korbonos while majority of Jews are in a state of impure. But then why would issue Kares apply? – Daniel Ross Dec 31 '18 at 21:37
  • @Daniel they don't not apply when going up for fun. Since no one has yet gone up to build/offer they still apply – Double AA Dec 31 '18 at 21:41
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R. Yosef Messas has a responsum in which he was asked whether we can rebuild the Beis Hamikdash. The following is his answer:

Otzar Hamichtavim 3:1775

תשובה אי אפשר לבנותו כיום מכמה סבות א' אין אנו יודעים מקומו בדיוק גמור ובפרט מקום המזבח שאף בבית א' שהיה רק שבעים שנה אחר חורבן הבית הראשון לא ידעו את מקומו והוצרכו לנבואת נביאים להעיד להם על מקומו ועל מדותיו כמ"ש הרמב"ם ז"ל תלכות בית הבחירה פ"ב ה"ב וכ"ש עתה שנמשך חרבנו זה קרוב לאלפים שנה וידי זרים שלטו בו וערו ערו עד היסוד בה וחדשו יסודות אחרים ובנו כרצונם ואי אפשר לשנות ולא להוסיף ולא לגרוע כמ"ש הרמב"ם ז"ל באותו פרק. ב' כל אבני המזבח צריכים להיות גזית בלי שום פגם אפי' כאגירת הצפורן כסכין של שחיטה ואם לא היתה כך פסולה למזבח ואי אפשר לתקנה ולסתתה בכלי ברזל שכל אבן שנגע בה הברזל פסולה כמ"ש שם ברמב"ם פ"א ובזמן בית א' וב' היה להם השמיר שבו היו מתקנים את הכל ועתה איז לנו שמיר. ג' הכהונה אין לנו כהן מיוחס עד אהרן רק חזקת כהונה ועוד כולנו טמאי מתים וצריכים פרה אדומה ואין ועוד יש הרבה דברים המעכבים ואין הפנאי מסכים לפרטם ורק אנחנו מחכים ומצפים ומקוים ומיחלים לתשועת ה' יום יום להערות עלינו רוח ממרום רוח נבואה ואז יתוקן הכל בס"ד בב"א

Answer: It is impossible to build it today for several reasons.

  1. We do not know its location with exact precision, and particularly the location of the altar for which even in the Second1 Temple which was only 70 years after the destruction of the First Temple, they did not know it's place and needed prophecy of the prophets to testify to them about its location and its measurements, as Maimonides wrote in Laws of the Temple 2:2. And certainly now, when its ruin has continued for nearly 2,000 years, and the hands of strangers have ruled over it and razed it to its foundations and built what they wanted. And we can't change, add, or subtract, as Maimonides wrote in that chapter.

  2. All the stones of the altar need to be hewn without any imperfections, even like a nail shaving, as by a slaughtering knife, and if it is not such, it is invalid for the alter. And it is impossible to fix and to cut with an iron implement, because any stone which is touched by the iron is invalid, as Maimonides wrote there in Chapter One. And in the time of the First and Second Temples they had the shamir with which they would fix everything, but now we do not have the shamir.

  3. The priesthood. We do not have a priest genealogically linked back to Aaron, only presumptive priests. Furthermore, we are all impure from the dead and we need a red heifer which we do not have.

And there are many additional things that prevent [us from building the temple] but time does not allow me to enumerate them. We only wait, look, yearn and hope for the salvation of God every day to awaken in us a spirit from above, a spirit of prophecy. And then everything will be fixed with the help of Heaven, speedily in our days, amen.


1. The text of the responsum actually says "First Temple" but that seems to be a mistake.

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    2 is no longer true with the advent of lasers. 1 will probably not be true once archaeologists get to poke around a bit. – Double AA Jan 1 at 4:00
  • @DoubleAA IMSMC I believe Rav Nachum Rabinovitch, shlita, encourages ascending the Temple Mt in part b/c he maintains we already have sufficient archeological knowledge to determine the Temple's location. – Loewian Jan 1 at 4:14
  • @Loewian sure but this is about the Mizbeach itself, not just the general location of the temple overall – Double AA Jan 1 at 4:51
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According to a baraita cited by the Talmud (Sanhedrin 20b):

וכן היה רבי יהודה אומר ג' מצות נצטוו ישראל בכניסתן לארץ להעמיד להם מלך ולהכרית זרעו של עמלק ולבנות להם בית הבחירה

And so would Rabbi Yehuda say: Three mitzvot were commanded to the Jewish people upon their entrance into Eretz Yisrael: to establish a king for themselves, and to cut off the seed of Amalek and to build the Chosen House (the Temple).

Likewise, another baraita cited by the Talmud (id):

תניא רבי יוסי אומר שלש מצות נצטוו ישראל בכניסתן לארץ להעמיד להם מלך ולהכרית זרעו של עמלק ולבנות להם בית הבחירה ואיני יודע איזה מהן תחילה

It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yosei says: Three mitzvot were commanded to the Jewish people upon their entrance into Eretz Yisrael: To establish a king for themselves, and to cut off the seed of Amalek, and to build for themselves the Chosen House. But I do not know which one they are obligated to do first.

כשהוא אומר (שמות יז, טז) כי יד על כס י-ה מלחמה לה' בעמלק הוי אומר להעמיד להם מלך תחילה ואין כסא אלא מלך שנאמר (דברי הימים א כט, כג) וישב שלמה על כסא ה' למלך

When the verse states: “The hand upon the throne [kes] of the Lord: The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16), you must say that this means they are obligated to establish a king for themselves first, and “Throne” means nothing other than a a king, as it is stated: “Then Solomon sat on the throne [kisei] of the Lord as king” (I Chronicles 29:23).”

ועדיין איני יודע אם לבנות להם בית הבחירה תחלה או להכרית זרעו של עמלק תחלה כשהוא אומר (דברים יב, י) והניח לכם מכל אויביכם וגו' והיה המקום אשר יבחר ה' וגו' הוי אומר להכרית זרעו של עמלק תחלה

And still I do not know whether building them the Chosen House is first, or cutting off the seed of Amalek is first, [i.e., after the appointing of the king]. When [the verse] states: “And He will give you rest from all your enemies [round about, so that you dwell in safety;] then it shall come to pass that the place that the Lord your God shall choose [to cause His name to dwell there, there shall you bring all that I command you]” (Deuteronomy 12:10–11), you must say that [the obligation is] to cut off the seed of Amalek first.

וכן בדוד הוא אומר (שמואל ב ז, א) ויהי כי ישב המלך דוד בביתו וה' הניח לו מסביב וכתיב (שמואל ב ז, ב) ויאמר המלך אל נתן הנביא ראה נא אנכי יושב בבית ארזים וגו'

The baraita continues: And so the verse states concerning David: “And it came to pass, when King David dwelled in his house and the Lord had given him rest round about [from all his enemies]” (II Samuel 7:1). And it is written [immediately] afterward: “The king said to Nathan the prophet: See now, I dwell in a house of cedar [but the Ark of G-d dwells within curtains” (II Samuel 7:2), and King David then began seeking a site to build the Temple].

Seemingly, while there is indeed a biblical commandment upon Israel to (re)build the Temple, there are preconditions (i.e. the obligations to appoint a king and to destroy Amalek) that delay the obligation.

This is codified in Maimonides' Laws of Kings and Wars 1:1-2:

שָׁלֹשׁ מִצְוֹת נִצְטַוּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּשְׁעַת כְּנִיסָתָן לָאָרֶץ. לְמַנּוֹת לָהֶם מֶלֶךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז טו) "שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ". וּלְהַכְרִית זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל עֲמָלֵק שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כה יט) "תִּמְחֶה אֶת זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק". וְלִבְנוֹת בֵּית הַבְּחִירָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יב ה) "לְשִׁכְנוֹ תִדְרְשׁוּ וּבָאתָ שָּׁמָּה":

Israel was enjoined with three Commandments upon entering the Land: to appoint a king, as it says, “you shall set a king over yourselves” (Deut. 17:15); to destroy the descendents of Amalek, as it says “erase the memory of Amalek” (Deut. 25:19); and build the Temple, as it says, “you shall seek His habitation, and there you will come” (Deut. 12:5).

מִנּוּי מֶלֶךְ קוֹדֵם לְמִלְחֶמֶת עֲמָלֵק. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א טו א) "אֹתִי שָׁלַח ה' לִמְשָׁחֳךָ לְמֶלֶךְ" (שמואל א טו ג) "עַתָּה לֵךְ וְהִכִּיתָה אֶת עֲמָלֵק". וְהַכְרָתַת זֶרַע עֲמָלֵק קוֹדֶמֶת לְבִנְיַן הַבַּיִת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל ב ז א) "וַיְהִי כִּי יָשַׁב הַמֶּלֶךְ בְּבֵיתוֹ וַה' הֵנִיחַ לוֹ מִסָּבִיב מִכָּל אֹיְבָיו" (שמואל ב ז ב) "וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶל נָתָן הַנָּבִיא אָנֹכִי יוֹשֵׁב בְּבֵית אֲרָזִים" וְגוֹ'...

The appointment of the king comes before the war with Amalek, as it says, “G-d has sent me to anoint you king…Now, go and smite Amalek” (I Samuel 15:1-3). The eradication of Amalek precedes the construction of the Temple, as it says, “and it was so, when the king was settled in his home, and G-d allowed him respite from his enemies all around. And the king said to Nathan, the Prophet, ‘I am living in a house of cedar…’” (II Samuel 7:1-2)...

Nonetheless, (as noted by @DoubleAA in a comment) Kings David and Solomon had not entirely wiped out all traces of Amalek before seeking to and building the Temple. Arguably, Rabbi Yosi's teaching may be more of a conceptually practical nature rather than an absolute legal precondition. Thus his point may be that the Temple and what it represents cannot be built till the forces that fight it are subdued. In the hypothetical you suggest, that may indeed be the case. (Likewise, one might argue that a ruler that is able to rebuild the Temple fulfills the requirement of being a king.)

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    Are you implying we can't rebuild the Temple until Amalek is destroyed? How is it less destroyed than when David was king? – Double AA Jan 1 at 4:52

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