Rabbi Label Lam
It Will be Built Again
Hashem spoke to Moses saying: "Speak to the Children of Israel and let them
take for Me a portion, from every man whose heart moves him you shall take
My portion." (Shemos 25:1-2)
Rabbi Shimon says: Anybody who seeks to exert effort in the performance of
Mitzvos and in the service of The Holy One Blessed Be He, it is vital that
he not strive in vain. All that is required of him is to work at it to the
extent of his abilities. (Zohar on the verse above.)
Make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell amongst them. (Shemos 25:8)
How does one go about constructing a Sanctuary for The A-lmighty? It's
hard just to compose a few lines on a blank page before approaching The
Western Wall, how much more so to construct the building atop that
wall? It's "only" the structure that would house our most sacred
relationship and be the centerpiece of our existence for more than a
thousand years. How is it to be built? How is it to be rebuilt?
Eleven years ago, as the (first) Gulf War was warming up, I had the
special honor to serve as the escort / guardian for a close friend for the
24 hours prior to his wedding (a traditional Jewish custom). The night
before the event, we went to the home of Rabbi Mordachai Schwabb zt'l for
blessing. We stood outside for a few moments late at night and waited for
the signal to come in and greet the Rabbi.
When the prior visitor exited we entered. It was clear that we were the
last ones after a long day and ours would be a brief encounter there in the
doorway. We informed him of the purpose of our visit and he promptly
showered the groom (and me too) with a wonderful bouquet of blessings.
Already, in the salutation part of the encounter, my friend let loose a
question straight from his heart. There was an ominous feeling at that
time that something big was about to happen. Would it be a tragic or a
triumphant result? We know the feeling all too well. "Rebbe," he asked,
"what do we do to get ready for Mashiach?" Without missing a beat to
think and wonder he immediately starting beckoning us to come in and sit
down as he repeated and excitedly, "Three things! The Chofetz Chaim says
He then quoted and paraphrased a short essay by the Chofetz Chaim, in
chapter 18 of one of the smaller booklets he authored called, "Zachor
L'Miriam." The three things listed there are as follows:
1) Everyone should set aside time to learn and do whatever he can according
his abilities. If one can learn Mishne then learn Mishne. If Talmud then
Talmud. If Chumash then Chumash. Nobody is being asked to do more than
what he is able. The Torah doesn"t come to make our lives difficult. He
quotes the verse from Koheles, "Everything that you find it within your
capability to do, do it." Emphasizing the words, "your capability."
2) Teshuva - Repentance. Especially with an emphasis on committing to
change in the future. He gives a simple parable of a honored personality
who frequented a certain home. When he came to town again he went to a
different host. The first host asked why he was being overlooked. The
honored gentleman informed him that he had been treated disrespectfully
the last time he was there. The host offered many excuses and apologies.
The important person told him to promise that it would never happen again,
and he would be happy to return. Hashem dwelled among us during the 1st
and 2nd Temple Periods, and "went away." If appropriate respect could be
promised and delivered. He would return.
3) Lastly, he writes that we need to have respect for our smaller
sanctuaries. How can we expect to merit the big mirror if we fail
to appreciate the smaller sliver we have in our hands? If my child
doesn't practice and take care of his beginner's guitar, then why should I
buy him an expensive electric one? Will that help to make him a better
Here are three practical suggestions that rolled right off the Rabbi's lips
without hesitation. It obviously wasn't the first time he had contemplated
the subject. It was real and relevant to him like oxygen. That's also how
Moses started the original Sanctuary with a sincere request that everyone
simply live up to the best of their ability and it seems that that's how it
will be built again.
Text Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Label Lam and
Project Genesis, Inc.