Haftarah: Ezekiel 43: 10 – 27
Ezekiel, the son of a Cohen, was among the 8,000 Jews to be exiled to Babylon in 597 BCE.
In the Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 40, Ezekiel writes that he is carried by Gd to the land of Israel. He is set on top of a very high mountain where he sees something like the structure of a city. A man, seemingly made of brass, proceeds to give Ezekiel a very thorough tour of the future Temple. The descriptions of the restored Temple of Jerusalem continue for over 3 chapters. There are detailed descriptions of each element to be measured and positioned.
The haftarah begins with the words, “Thou, son of man, describe the house to the house of Israel that they may be ashamed of their iniquities…And if they are ashamed of all that they have done make known to them the form of the house…”
The Jews were miserable. It was the 25th year of the exile to Babylon. Gd wanted to give them hope but made it clear that the Temple would only be restored if the Jews were repentant and corrected their behaviours and observances.
Right now, in February 2016, the debate about who can pray at the Kotel (the Western Wall) and how they can pray has ignited again.
Under Jordanian rule Jews were forbidden to pray at the Western Wall from 1948 until 1967. When Israeli forces liberated Jerusalem in 1967 Jews were once again free to go to the Kotel. In the last few years there have been debates and protests about the type of prayer allowed at the Kotel. Men and women together? Apart? Women reading Torah? Permissible? How? Where? When? Why?
The temple Mount is the holiest place of Judaism. The Kotel is the only remaining wall of the Temple’s encompassing structure. This remnant of the Temple should be a place of acceptance and harmony. It should be a place where all Jews can speak to Gd in their own way, unfettered by divisive, alienating rules.
I hope that each of us will be able to look straight up to the heavens and talk to Gd instead of expending our energies looking sideways at what others are doing. Maybe then peace, and the Third Temple, will appear.
I based my drawing at the top of this post on a rendering of Solomon’s Temple from an illumination in an early 12th C. German manuscript. The manuscript is currently in Vienna, Austria in the National Library. The floor plan shows the position of the ritual objects in the Temple.
May you have a Shabbat Shalom- one of peace, understanding and warmth.
Rabbi Cardozo wrote an interesting piece on the subject of prayer at the Western Wall. http://www.cardozoacademy.info/thoughts-to-ponder/shut-down-the-kotel/