The Glory of this Latter House Shall be Greater than that of the Former
“Rabbi Abba said, ‘I remember something that I heard from the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai], who heard it in the name of Rabbi Eli’ezer [son of Hyrcanus]. One day, a certain clever Gentile came to him and said, Old man, old man… you say that another Temple will be built for you, whereas only two were supposed to be built: the First Temple and the Second Temple—a Third Temple and a Fourth Temple you will not find in the Torah! Surely, what is meant to be built has already been built, and there will never be any more; for, after all, Scripture calls them the two houses of Israel (Isaiah 8:14), and it is written The glory of this last house will be greater than the first (Haggai 2:9)…’
[The Gentile] said, ‘Old man, old man, don’t say anything to me, because I won’t listen to you or accept it!’ [cf. Proverbs 18:2: A fool does not care for discerning but for exposing his inner thoughts; ibid., 26:4-5: Do not answer a dolt by his folly, lest you, too, be like him. Answer the dolt by his folly, lest he seem wise in his own eyes].
Rabbi Eli’ezer raised his eyes and gazed at him, and he turned into a heap of bones. When his wrath subsided, he turned his head and wept. He said, ‘YHWH our Lord, how majestic is Your name throughout the earth! (Psalms 8:2). How mighty is the holy power throughout the earth! There is not a single tiny word appearing in the Torah that has not issued from the mouth of the blessed Holy One. These things asked by that wicked man I asked Elijah one day, and he said that they had been presented in the Heavenly Academy before the blessed Holy One.
For when Israel came out of Egypt, the blessed Holy One wished to make them on earth like holy angels above, and He wanted to build for them a holy house, bring it down from the utmost heavens, and plant Israel as a holy shoot corresponding to the image above. As is written: You will bring them, You will plant them on the mount of Your heritage. In which? A firm place for Your dwelling You fashioned, O YHWH (Exodus 15:17)—in the one that You fashioned Yourself, no one else—the First Temple. The sanctuary, O YHWH, Your hands firmly founded—the Second Temple. Both of them, the artistry of the blessed Holy One.
But because they angered Him in the desert, they died, and the blessed Holy One brought into the Land their children—who learned their ways—and the house was built by human hands. Consequently, it did not endure; and Solomon said, Unless YHWH builds the house, its builders labor in vain (Psalms 127:1), for it has no endurance.
In the days of Ezra, sin took its toll—due to various transgressions—and they were forced to build it themselves, so it did not endure. Until now, the original building of the blessed Holy One has never appeared in the world. For it is written: YHWH builds Jerusalem (Psalms 147:2)—He and no one else. It is this building we await, not a human building, which has no endurance at all [cf. Mekhilta, Shirta 10; Melkhilta de-Rashbi, Exodus 15:17; Avot de-Rabbi Natan A, 1; Targum Yerushalmi, Exodus 15:17; Tanḥuma, Noaḥ 11; Pequdei 11; Tanḥuma (Buber), Noaḥ 17; Pesiqta Rabbati 31, 142b; Yalqut Shim’oni, Psalms 848; Rashi on Exodus 15:17; idem, Rosh ha-Shanah 30a, s.v. la tserikha; Sukkah 41a; Zohar 1:114a (MhN), 183b; 2:59a-b, 108a-b].
The blessed Holy One will bring down the First Temple and the Second Temple as one from above—the First Temple, concealed [Binah]; the Second Temple, revealed [Malkhut]. The house called Second Temple will be revealed, so that the artistry of the blessed Holy One will be visible to the whole world—total joy, aspiration of the heart, in full existence.
That First Temple, concealed, will ascend high above the one revealed; and the whole world will see clouds of glory surrounding the revealed one; and within those clouds will be the First Temple, in hidden fashioning, rising to the height of the glorious heavens. It is this building that we await, which has never existed in the world.
Even the city of Jerusalem will not be the work of human hands, for it is written: I Myself—declares YHWH—will be a wall of fire around her… (Zechariah 2:9). If this is what is written about the city, all the more so for the Temple, which is His dwelling. This act should have happened at first, when Israel came out of Egypt, but it has been deferred to the end of days in the final redemption” (Zohar 3:220b-221a).
“Come and see: Four hundred years, the minister of the children of Ishmael stood and begged before the blessed Holy One: ‘Whoever is circumcised has a portion in Your name.’ He said to him, ‘it is so.’ ‘Behold Ishmael who is circumcised. Why does he not have a portion in You like Isaac?’ He said to him, ‘It is not so, the one was circumcised properly and according to the full requirements, while the other was not so [as Ishmael do not fulfill פּרִיעָה (peri’ah), uncovering, which is alluded to by the verse: He will be פֶּרֶא אָדָם (pere adam), a wild ass of a man, his hand against all, the hand of all against him… (Genesis 16:12, see Zohar 2:86a; 3:192b). אָתוֹן (Aton), she-ass, is numerically equivalent to יִשְׁמָעֵאל (Yishma’el), Ishmael)].
Moreover, they cleave to Me as is specified, on the eighth day, while the others are distanced from me for many days [being circumcised only at age thirteen, see, Bereshit Rabbah 55:4].’ ‘But still in all, since he is circumcised, would he not have a good reward for this?’ [Rabbi Ḥiyya said:] Woe is to the time that Ishmael was born into the world and was circumcised. What did the blessed Holy One do? He distanced the children of Ishmael from supernal cleaving and gave them a portion below in the Holy Land, because of their circumcision. And in the future, the children of Ishmael are destined to rule over the Holy Land for a long time when it is empty, like their circumcision, empty and imperfect. And they will prevent the children of Israel from returning to their place until the reward for the merit of the children of Ishmael reaches completion.
The children of Ishmael will cause great wars in the world and the children of Edom will gather against them, and wage war against them, one on the sea, one on the dry land, and one near Jerusalem. And they will rule over each other, but the Holy Land will not be given over to the children of Edom [cf. Numbers 24:19]. At that time, a nation from the end of the earth will be roused against evil Rome and wage war against it for three months. Nations will gather there, and will fall into their hands until all the children of Edom will gather against it from all the corners of the world. Then the blessed Holy One will be roused against them. This is the meaning of For YHWH has a sacrifice in Botzrah (Isaiah 34:6). And afterwards, it is written That it might take hold of the ends of the earth (Job 38:13).
He will destroy the descendants of Ishmael from the land, and break all [its] powers above. There will not remain any power of any people on earth, except the power of Israel alone. This is the meaning of YHWH is your shade upon your right hand (Psalms 121:5). For the Holy Name is on the right, and the Torah is on the right. Therefore, everything stems from the right. We have learned that one should raise the right over the left, as it is written In His right hand a fiery law (Deuteronomy 33:2). In the time to come: Save with Your right hand and answer me (Psalms 60:7). And of that time, it is written: For then I will purify the language of the peoples, that all of them may call upon the name of YHWH and serve Him shoulder to shoulder (Zephaniah 3:9), and On that day YHWH will be one, and His name will be One (Zechariah 14:9)” (Zohar 2:32a).