How to Rebuild the Holy Temple
We find the term eichah used in two Scriptural verses:
1. “Eichah [How can] I alone carry your contentiousness, your burdens, and your quarrels?” (Deuteronomy 1:12).
2. “Eichah [How does] the city sit solitary, that was full of people” (Lamentations 1:1).
Let us examine if a connection exists between these two verses.
Although the Shechinah resides in the Holy Temple, it dwells primarily among the Children of Israel through their diligent Torah study (Torat Kohanim 26:3) and their constant efforts to come closer to the Holy One, blessed be He. Thus they receive, as we have seen, an awakening from Above. Nevertheless, without the resolve of the Children of Israel, the Divine Presence does not find a vessel suitable for containing it. Hence they no longer need the Temple in Jerusalem, for no influence is exercised over it, which is why it was destroyed. This is the primary reason for the destruction of the Temple and the exile.
We can correct this situation by the construction of synagogues and houses of study from which the Torah emerges, for these are themselves Sanctuaries (Megillah 29a). When the second Temple was destroyed, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai asked the Roman Emperor to spare the city of Yavneh and the lives of the Sages (Gittin 66b) in order for the Jewish people to survive (Rashi), for the community of Israel would be rebuilt by the construction of yeshivot.
For this to happen, the Jewish people must diligently engage in Torah study; they must be machur, sold to it (Kerem Yavneh). The Holy One, blessed be He, was also “sold” with it, as it were (Shemot Rabba 33:1). Increasing the number of yeshivot increases wisdom, Hillel taught (Perkei Avoth 2:7). The Torah is the essential thing, and a wise man is preferable to a prophet (Bava Batra 12a). One who engages in Torah study causes the Divine Presence to reside in him.
“How can I alone carry…” exclaimed Moses. How can I connect myself to the Holy One, blessed be He, without help on your part? This is because all Jews are guarantors for one another (Sanhedrin 27b). A single Jew cannot accomplish all the 613 mitzvot in the Torah, for some mitzvot apply only to Kohanim, while others apply to Levites, and so on. Because Jews are guarantors for one another, it is as if they carry out all the mitzvot of the Torah. This is why we recite, before performing a mitzvah, a passage that mentions the name of all Israel. The only way I can survive alone, Moses told them, is if you study the Torah and carry out the mitzvot. Hashem wants all of you to be united.
Hashem rightfully belongs to you only if you increase your Torah study. “May the L-RD, the G-d of your forefathers, add to you a thousand times yourselves…” (Deuteronomy 1:11). Nevertheless, be careful about mitzvot that deal with man and his fellowman: “Listen among your brethren and judge righteously between a man and his brother or his litigant” (v.16). Hashem will then make His Shechinah reside upon you.
We can thus understand the prophet’s exclamation: “[How does] the city sit badad [solitary], that was full of people” (Lamentations 1:1). How can Jerusalem remain solitary, its crown removed? How could the Divine Presence have left this city, to which the eyes of the whole world were turned? The answer is found in the very exclamation of Jeremiah: Each was badad: Unity did not reign among the Children of Israel, and they were not guarantors for one another. That is what caused Jerusalem’s destruction.
Moses had succinctly explained to the Children of Israel that if they wanted to elevate themselves, they must not count solely on the greats of the generation, but rather on their desire to be united. The power of a Tzaddik consists of transforming a person into a vessel suitable for receiving a flow of spirituality. Otherwise the Tzaddik remains solitary and cannot elevate others along with himself.
To receive this influx, Jews must rid themselves of every obstacle placed before them. This is what is alluded to in the verse, “You shall command the people, saying: ‘You are passing through the boundary of your brothers the children of Esau, who dwell in Seir; they will fear you, but you should be very careful’ ” (Deuteronomy 2:4). When the Jewish people conform to G-d’s will, all the peoples and the wicked of the world are seized with fear, and it is then that they try to find favor in their eyes. The Torah therefore warns us to “be meod [very] careful,” for the Midrash teaches that meod is the evil inclination (Bereshith Rabba 9:9). The word Seir alludes to this, for its letters form the word rishi, meaning that we must not let ourselves be seduced by the wicked.
“You shall not provoke them” (Deuteronomy 2:5), the Torah continues. Above all, do not tell yourselves, “Since the nations are afraid of us, we cannot live with them,” for I am not giving you their land. In other words: I will not let you follow their ways, and if you follow them, you will fall into their hands. You are forbidden to receive gifts from them, for you lack nothing, and G-d has blessed you in everything that you do. Therefore do not put yourselves to the test. You can then be influenced by the Tzaddikim and the greats of the generation, and the Temple will be rebuilt and the Divine Presence will reside in you.