KINGS II, 5:26
This week’s haftorah teaches us the proper perspective about the security of the Bais Hamikdash and of our synagogue, our miniature Bais Hamikdash. We read that Shlomo Hamelech built a magnificent edifice to serve as the Bais Hamikdash. Every stone used in the exterior walls was hewed from the quarry in perfect size and shape and did not require any cutting or planing. Numerous chambers and annexes were built around the basic walls and winding staircases were included. Shlomo even panelled the entire structure with impressive cedar wood. After completing the exterior of the Bais Hamikdash, Shlomo received words of prophecy from Hashem. The Scriptures say, “Regarding the house which you are building, if you follow My statutes and fulfill My laws and guard all of My mitzvos to walk in their direction… I will then dwell amongst the Jewish people and I will not forsake My Jewish nation.” Hashem warned Shlomo Hamelech that the key factor in the Bais Hamikdash was the adherence to the mitzvos of Hashem. Even this most beautiful edifice will be of practically no value unless the Jewish people follow closely along the path of Hashem. Shlomo was reminded that the objective of the Bais Hamikdash was to become the House of Hashem. This could only occur if the inner fiber of the Bais Hamikdash was also preserved, namely the sincere interest of the Jews to associate with Hashem.
It is interesting to note that this prophecy was delivered to the king in the midst of his labor. Shlomo Hamelech had just completed the exterior structure of the Bais Hamikdash and before even beginning the interior structure he was sent a message from Hashem. The upshot of this is that Shlomo Hamelech was being taught a meaningful lesson. Although this absolutely stunning edifice should rightfully enhance the glory of Hashem its external qualities would not suffice. Shlomo was told that the exterior structure was not the answer but it was the interior which truly made the difference. He was reminded that the actual interior of the Bais Hamikdash was the close adherence of the Jews to the will of Hashem, and not magnificent interior walls. Hashem reminded Shlomo that Bais Hamikdash means House of Hashem and that this could only transpire if the Jews adhere to the mitzvos of Hashem. If they were truly interested in the association with Hashem, then and only then could they merit the presence of Hashem.
But an additional dimension was revealed to Shlomo during the construction of the Bais Hamikdash. In the above passages we discover that Hashem attributed the construction exclusively to Shlomo Hamelech. Hashem said, “The house which you (singular) are building; if you (singular) walk in My statutes….” The Malbim (ad loc) sensitizes us to the fact that the actual workers who constructed the Bais Hamikdash were omitted and ignored. The construction was specifically attributed to Shlomo and to no one else. This reminds us of the comment of Sforno (Shmos 38:21) in noting the contrast between the Mishkan, sanctuary, and the Bais Hamikdash. He notes that the Mishkan was never destroyed or ruined and never fell into foreign hands. However, as we read in the last haftorah, the Bais Hamikdash suffered much deterioration and as we know, it was eventually destroyed by foreign hands. Sforno attributes this to the stark contrast between the builders of the Bais Hamikdash and of the Mishkan. The Mishkan was physically constructed by the most pious individuals, Betzalel and his devoted crew. They realized that the true objective was to create an environment wherein Hashem would consent to rest His Divine Presence. Spirituality, sanctity and devotion were the keys to such a result. However the Bais Hamikdash was constructed and erected by a combination of Jews and Tyreans. This construction lent itself to focusing on the physical factors and dimensions of the Bais Hamikdash, rather than its spiritual qualities. Sforno therefore explains that the Mishkan remained intact and was always appreciated for its spirituality and sanctity. It always remained the House of Hashem never to be destroyed because it was built with that focus in mind. However the construction of the Bais Hamikdash included external factors and did not possess the same spiritual qualities as did the Mishkan. The Bais Hamikdash was prone to be viewed as a physical edifice rather than the House of Hashem and could eventually forfeit its true quality and appreciation and even fall into foreign hands. This is what the prophet referred to when he attributed the construction of the Bais Hamikdash to Shlomo himself. The only dimension of the Bais Hamikdash which was meaningful and secure was Shlomo’s participation in its construction, building it with the directive of spirituality and sanctity. The prophet therefore attributes the erection of the Bais Hamikdash solely to Shlomo. The inner fiber of the Bais Hamikdash was supplied solely by Shlomo and its true erection and continued existence was totally his credit.
The synagogue, our miniature Bais Hamikdash follows the same formula. Its existence also depends on it being the House of Hashem which, as we’ve learned can only be facilitated through our sincere interest to associate with Hashem.