Baruch Hashem, this version reflects Rav Moshe Weinberger's review of the my write-up of his drasha this Shabbos, Parshas Re'eh. See here for past write-ups. Also, thousands of Rav Weinberger's shiurim are available online here. You can also go to YUTorah.org's website to hear Rav Weinberger's shiurim as mashgiach/mashpia at YU or click on one of the following links to subscribe to the shiurim: email, rss feed, podcast, or iTunes. Please note that these drashos will only be available online for one month. My son suggested (credit where it is due!) that if you notice any mistakes, please let me know so I can correct it. If you are interested in a particular drasha that is no longer online, you can email me and I'll send it to you IY"H, BL"N.
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Rav Moshe Weinberger
Parshas Re’eh 5774
Throughout the summer, we have come under attack physically and verbally both in Eretz Yisroel and around the world. We therefore long even more for the ultimate revelation of Hashem’s truth. We hope and pray that Hashem will soon cause His presence to become apparent in the world through the long-awaited rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash. And the search for the Beis Hamikdash is one of the central points in this week’s parsha as well. Without specifically identifying its location, the pasuk (Devarim 12:5) says, “… the place Hashem your G-d will choose from all of your tribes to affix His name there, you shall seek Him there at His dwelling and come there.” The Torah is telling us that an integral part of the building of the Beis Hamikdash is that we must “seek Him there…”
The Location of the Beis Hamikdash – Predetermined or Subject to Choice
Instead of specifying the place where the Beis Hamikdash would be built, the Torah repeatedly says that the Beis Hamikdash shall be in “the place Hashem your G-d will choose.” This phrase is used no less than sixteen times in this week’s parsha alone. According to our Sages, this is why the Beis Hamikdash is called “בית הבחירה, The House of Choice.”
But why is the location of the Beis Hamikdash treated by the Torah as such a mystery? Why must the Torah repeatedly say that it is in “the place Hashem your G-d will choose?” It is clear from Chazal that Hashem designated the future location of the Beis Hamikdash from the beginning of time, even carving out the site of the alter and canals for the wine libations at the time of the six days of creation (Sukkah 49a). The Rambam (Beis Habechira 2:2) teaches that:
There is a tradition maintained by everyone that the place where Dovid and Shlomo built the alter is the same place where Avraham built an alter and bound Yitzchak, the same place where Noach built [an alter] when he left the ark. It is the [location of] the alter on which Kayin and Hevel offered sacrifices, and on which Adam sacrificed an offering when he was created, and Adam was created from that place. The sages say, “Man was formed from the place of his atonement.”
It is clear that we have known from the time of creation that the Beis Hamikdash would be built on a certain mountain in Yerushalayim. According to the Midrash (Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 28), Avraham circumcised himself at the future location of the Beis Hamikdash and his blood flowed into the earth that would eventually fill the alter. If this was known long before Hashem gave us the Torah, why does He conceal the location? Rav Shlomo Hakohein Rabinowicz of Radomsk, zt”l, the “Tiferes Shlomo,” expressed the question clearly: Why did the pasuk not explicitly say, “the place that Hashem will choose, the holy mountain in Yerushalayim”? It would have been much clearer. Why the mystery?
The answer to our question lies in the very same pasuk we started with. In order to find the location of the Beis Hamikdash, “you shall seek Him there at His dwelling.” We must seek it out. As the Midrash (Sifri) says, commenting on the pasuk, “Seek and you shall find it. And afterward, the prophet will tell you [that it is the correct spot].” Expanding on the Ramban, zt”l, on the same pasuk, the Malbim, zt”l, says: “This teaches them that Hashem will not reveal the chosen place through His prophets until they make an effort and seek it out. Then, [Hashem] will pour a spirit from above upon them after the appropriate preparation…” Along these lines, the Chasam Sofer, zt”l (Resp. Yoreh Deah 234), teaches that the location of the Beis Hamikdash was “hidden until [Hashem] illuminated their eyes in the days of Dovid Hamelech.”
In other words, Hashem is telling us that it is not enough that He chose the location of the Beis Hamikdash. We must choose it, seek it out, long for it, and do everything we can to find it. And who finally revealed Hashem’s choice as the actual location of the Beis Hamikdash? The man who felt more “unchosen” than anyone else in the world: Dovid Hamelech.
Dovid wrote about himself (Tehillim 118:22), “The stone despised by the builders became the cornerstone.” It became the very foundation of the entire Beis Hamikdash. Even after Shmuel Hanavi told Yishai that one of his sons would be the next anointed king and excluded all of Dovid’s other brothers, it still never even occurred to his father and brothers that Dovid could possibly be the anointed one (Shmuel I 16:6-11). Yet Dovid, the “stone despised by the builders,” became the cornerstone, the beginning of a new dynasty to which Moshiach himself would eventually trace his lineage.
Dovid said (Tehillim 42:8), “All of Your breakers and waves passed over me.” He went through so much suffering. Chazal even discuss (see Yevamos 77a-b) whether Dovid was allowed to marry into the Jewish people! Dovid certainly knew what it meant to feel “unchosen” and what it mean to seek, work, long, pray, and toil until he found his place in the Jewish people. Hashem therefore chose him to clearly reveal the location of the Beis Hamikdash and build its foundation. Dovid Hamelech represented the pinnacle of choice, the highest fulfillment of our obligation to “seek Him there at His dwelling and come there.”
In verses that Chazal say refer to Dovid, Shlomo Hamelech described this attribute of his father as follows (Shir Hashirim 3:1-2): “In my bed at night I sought that which my soul loves; I sought but I did not find. I will arise and walk around the city, in the market places and city squares. I will seek that which my soul loves. I sought but I did not find.” What was it that he sought out so deeply? What was it that robbed him of sleep? Dovid wrote in Tehillim (132:1, 3-5), A song of ascents: Remember, Hashem, Dovid, all of his affliction [in his toil to find a place for Hashem’s presence to rest – Rashi]… I shall not come into the tent of my house, I shall not go upon the bed that was prepared for me. Nor shall I give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my pupils until I find a place for Hashem, dwelling-places for the Mighty One of Yaakov.”
All Dovid Hamelech sought was the place where Hashem’s presence could be felt on a permanent basis in this world. He conducted his investigation by indefatigably searching through the streets and markets of Yerushalayim, looking for clues, comparing each location to maps and psukim, trying to find the exact location of the alter and the Holy of Holies. That is why Hashem answered his prayers and rewarded his search with success. Hashem chose the place where we chose Him (ibid. at 13-14), “For Hashem has chosen Zion, He desired it for a dwelling-place. This is My resting place forever, here I shall dwell, for I desired it.”
It is the same now. We may know the location of the Beis Hamikdash but strangers defile it every single day and we cannot rebuild. Vile terrorists fire rockets at Yerushalayim and Jews all over Eretz Yisroel. So we continue to daven for the Beis Hamikdash, to seek it out. As the Tiferes Shlomo says, “Even if we know this place, that it is in Yerushalayim, and that no other place will be chosen, nevertheless, it is still impossible to build [the Beis Hamikdash] there until Hashem chooses our prayers and desires ‘from all of your tribes,’ that they are worthy that it should be built for them and that Hashem should cause His presence to dwell among them.”
We may know where the Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt, but there is so much impurity standing in the way and the right time has not yet arrived. In fulfillment of the pasuk, “you shall seek Him there at His dwelling,” we must daven and hope for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash constantly.
Marriage Partners – Predetermined or Chosen
Just like one must seek out Hashem, the One without Whom we are incomplete, we also seek out a marriage partner, the one with whom we will build a home that serves as a microcosm of the Beis Hamikdash.
Why is there so much searching involved in finding one’s mate? We know Chazal say (Sota 2a), “Forty days before a fetus is formed, a Heavenly Voice goes out and says, ‘the daughter of so-and-so to so-and-so!’” If the right person is predetermined, why is it so hard to find one’s destined soul-mate?
First, one cannot find his mate without first feeling a profound sense of loneliness. One must feel he is missing an essential part of himself, that “it is not good for man to be alone.” Bereishis 2:18. One must first experience that existential loneliness before he is reunited with his other half and can say (ibid. at 23), “This time it is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
The pasuk which personifies the connection between marriage and our loving relationship with Hashem is (Shir Hashirim 6:3), “אני לדודי ודודי לי, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” We know that Chazal teach that the first letters of those words spell “אלול, Elul,” the month in the Hebrew calendar which starts this week and marks the beginning of the teshuva process. This pasuk shows that we must first seek out our beloved. Only when “I am my beloved’s,” when I search out the one I love, will I merit to attain the level called “And my beloved is mine.” Anyone in a successful relationship knows this to be true. It is so sad to have a wife and to give up searching for her, to have a child and to no longer seek him out.
This two-stage process is also reflected in the double meaning of the Hebrew word for “betrothed, מקודשת.” The chosson says to his bride, “הרי את מקודשת לי, Behold you are betrothed to me.” On one hand, the word implies that she is forbidden to every other man in the world. Betrothed here is a word signifying exclusion. This meaning of the word is related to the word “הקדש, sanctified to the Beis Hamikdash,” i.e., forbidden to everyone such that no one may use the sanctified object for anything other than its designated purpose. So too, the bride and groom agree, through their betrothal, not to look anywhere else in the world. But the word “betrothed, מקודשת,” also means that the two are dedicated to one another. This usage implies inclusion, a positive, proactive dedication to one another. They are saying that they one have eyes for one another.
These two aspects of the relationship between a husband and wife are also apparent in our relationship with Hashem, as hinted at in the pasuk (Tehillim 100:3), “He made us and we are His.” The word for “His,” however is read one way and written another way. It is written as if says “לא, no/not.” According to this reading, the pasuk says “He made us and not us,” i.e., we did not make ourselves. We must know that our relationship with Hashem must exclude the perception that we take credit for any aspect of attainments, skills, or accomplishments. It is a word of exclusion. But the word is also read as if it says “לו, His.” According to this reading, the pasuk says, “He made us and we are His.” It is not enough to look to Hashem alone and not give ourselves credit for anything we have. We must also realize that we are His, we have a unique and special relationship with Him. In fact, if we put the two ways of reading that word together (לו/לא), it contains the same letters as the month of אלול, Elul.
Whether it is an intimate human relationship, our relationship with Hashem, or meriting the fulfillment of Hashem’s dwelling place on earth, where the intimacy of the relationship between the Jewish nation and G-d is most revealed, there is always a duel nature. On one hand, there is the exclusion of all else which is personified by searching and longing. And there is the dedication to one another, the intimacy personified by Hashem’s revelation of the location of the Beis Hamikdash after our search and by the way a husband and wife find each other.
May Hashem put all of our difficulties behind us, may He reveal the way forward toward the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash soon in our days, and may every husband and wife merit finding one another and never looking at anyone else but their beloved.