Under Renovation

August 5, 2018 at 1:05 AM , , ,

“……And you shall tear down their altars… You shall not do so to G-d, your G-d….” – Devarim 12:3-4

וְנִתַּצְתֶּם אֶת מִזְבְּחֹתָם . . לֹא תַעֲשׂוּן כֵּן לַה’ אֱלֹקֵיכֶם – דברים יב, ג-ד

Anyone who demolishes a single stone from the Altar or any part of the Temple building… with a destructive intent is worthy of lashes, as is written: “And you shall destroy their altars…. Do not do so to G-d, your G-d.” —Rambam, Beis Habechirah 1:17

“He declares His words to Yaakov, His rules and His ordinances to Yisrael (Tehilim 147:19).” The Midrash (Shemos Rabba 30:9) explains that this means that all G-d’s commandments are, so to speak, the rules that He Himself follows. It would seem then, that by destroying the Beis Hamikdash (through His agents, see Yirmiyahu 7:14, 25:9, et al,) G-d was in violation of the prohibition to not damage the Beis Hamikdash whatsoever!

There is, however, an exception to this prohibition. The commentaries explain that one is only liable for damaging the Beis Hamikdash if, in the Rambam’s words, he does so “with a destructive intent”. “If he demolishes in order to improve upon the building, this is surely permissible”, writes the Kesef Mishneh.

The destruction of the Beis Hamikdash was therefore legally “permissible” for G-d, as it were, only under this clause: to allow for the construction of the third and improved Beis Hamikdash. The improved model will be an eternal edifice built by G-d Himself (see Zohar vol. 3, 221a), replacing the temporary structures built by man. By Halachic standards, such demolition is not considered destructive at all. Rather, the destruction of the Batei Mikdash was the beginning of their remodeling and renovation!

—Likutei Sichos vol. 29, pp. 11-14

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