“We have found that the Temple was destroyed the first time only because they worshiped idols, engaged in forbidden sexual relations, and shed blood. And the same with the Second [Temple].
Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Torta said: ‘We have found that Shiloh was destroyed only because they disgraced the holy days and profaned the sacrificial offerings. We have found that the First Temple was destroyed only because they worshiped idols, and they engaged in forbidden sexual relations, and they were shedders of blood. But with the Second [Temple], we know them as [people who] toiled in Torah and were careful with mitsvot and with tithes, and every kind of good conduct was among them, only that they loved money and hated one another [with] שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם (sinat ḥinnam), baseless hatred. And baseless hatred is so severe that it is equal in weight to idolatry, forbidden sexual relations and shedding blood.
A story: Rabbi Ze’ora and Ya’aqov son of Aḥa and Rabbi Abonah were sitting and saying: ‘[Baseless hatred is] even more [severe] since in the [case of the] First [Temple, it] was rebuilt but in [the case of] the Second [Temple, it] was not rebuilt.’ Rabbi Ze’ora said: ‘The [people of the] First [Temple] repented, but the [people of the] Second did not repent.’
Rabbi El’azar said: ‘The first ones—their iniquity and their designated time were revealed; the second ones—their iniquity was revealed but their designated time was not revealed.
They asked Rabbi Eli’ezer: ‘Are the last generations more worthy than the first ones?’ He answered them: ‘Your witnesses, the Chosen House shall prove [this]. Our forefathers removed the ceiling: And the cover of Judah He exposed (Isaiah 22:8) but we have smashed the walls: Saying, Raze it, raze it, to its foundation! (Psalm 137:7).’
They said: ‘Each generation for whom [the Temple] is not built during its days is considered as if it [were the generation that] had destroyed it” (JT Yoma 1:1, 38c).
“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is, Happy the man who fears at all times, but who hardens his heart will fall into harm? (Proverbs 28:14). The destruction of Jerusalem came through קַמְצָא וּבָּר קַמְצָא (qamtsa u-bar qamtsa), Locust and Son of Locust; the destruction of Tur Malka came through a rooster and a hen [cf. Judges 4:6]; the destruction of Bethar came through the shaft of a leather.
The destruction of Jerusalem came through a Qamtsa and a Son of Qamtsa in this way. A certain man had a friend Qamtsa and an enemy, Son of Qamtsa. He once made a party and said to his servant, Go and bring Qamtsa. The servant went and brought Son of Qamtsa. [The host] found him sitting [at the banquet]. He said, ‘Since that one [i.e., you] are the enemy of that man [i.e., me], what are you doing here? Get up and leave!’ He said to him, ‘Since I am here, let me be, and I will pay you for what I eat and drink.’
He said to him, ‘No.’ He said to him, ‘I will pay for half the banquet.’ He said to him, ‘No.’ He said to him, ‘I will pay for the whole banquet.’ He said to him, ‘No.’ He grabbed him by the hand and put him out. He [Son of Qamtsa] said, ‘Since the Rabbis were sitting and did not intervene, I will go and inform against them at the king’s palace.’ He went and said to the emperor, ‘The Jews are rebelling against you.’ He said, ‘How can I tell?’ He said to him, ‘Send them a sacrifice and see if they offer it [on the altar].’ He sent with him a fine calf. While on the way he made a blemish on its upper lip, or as some say on the white of its eye, in a place where we [Jews] count it a blemish but they do not. The Rabbis were inclined to offer it for the sake of peace with the kingdom. Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos said to them, ‘Should they say that blemished animals are offered on the altar?!’ They then proposed to kill [Son of Qamtsa] so that he should not go and tell him [the emperor]. Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos said to them, ‘Should they say that one who causes a blemish [on consecrated animals] be put to death?’ Rabbi Yoḥanan said, ‘The humility [or: scrupulousness; meekness (Rashi)] of Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqolas destroyed our Temple and burnt our Sanctuary and exiled us from our Land [cf. Eikhah Rabbah 4:3; Josephus, Jewish Wars 2:17, 2]….
[Knowing that Rabban Yoḥanan son of Zakkai was prepared to ask Vespasian not to destroy the Temple, he said to him]: If there is a barrel of honey and a snake is wrapped round it, wouldn’t they break the barrel in order to [kill] the snake? [So you should have broken down the walls to get rid of the zealots. Rabban Yoḥanan son of Zakkai] was silent. Rav Yosef said of him, and some say Rabbi Akiva: [I am YHWH, Maker of all…] setting sages back on their heels and thwarting their devisings (Isaiah 44:25). [Rabban Yoḥanan son of Zakkai] should have said, ‘We take tongs, remove the snake, and kill it, and we leave the barrel'” (BT Gittin 55b–56a, 56b).
“Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of three things which prevailed there: idolatry, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed…. But why was the Second Temple destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, mitsvot, and the practice of tsedaqah, social justice? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause. That teaches you that baseless hatred is considered as of equal weight with the three sins of idolatry, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed together. And [during the time of] the First Temple did no baseless hatred prevail? Surely it is written: Scream and howl, O man, for it was against My people, [it was against all Israel’s princes. Felled by the sword were My people, so clap upon the thigh] (Ezekiel 21:17). El’azar said: This refers to people who eat and drink together and then thrust each other through with the daggers of their tongue!—that [passage] speaks of the princes in Israel, for it is written, Cry and wail, son of man: for it is upon My people. One might have assumed [it is upon] all [Israel], therefore it goes on, Upon all the princes of Israel: [terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon My people: strike therefore upon your thigh] (ibid.)” (BT Yoma 9b).
“Long ago, as Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah, Rabbi Yehoshu’a and Rabbi Akiva were walking on the road, they heard the noise of the crowds at Rome [travelling] from Puteoli, twenty miles away. They all fell weeping, but Rabbi Akiva was laughing. They said to him: Why are you laughing? He said to them: Why are you weeping? They said: These heathens who bow down to images and burn incense to idols live in safety and ease, whereas our Temple, the ‘Footstool’ of our God is burnt down by fire, and should we then not weep? [on the Footstool of God, see 1 Chronicles 28:2; Lamentations 2:1; Psalms 99:5; 132:7; cf. Ezekiel 43:7]. He replied: That is why I am laughing. If it is so for they that offend Him, how much more so for they that do obey Him! Once again they were coming up to Jerusalem together, and just as they came to Mount Scopus they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. They fell weeping and Rabbi Akiva was laughing. They said to him, why are you laughing? He said: Why are you weeping? They said to him: A place of which it was once said, but the stranger that comes near shall be put to death (Numbers 1:51), has now become the haunt of foxes, and should we not weep? He said to them: That is why I am laughing, for it is written, And I enlisted for myself two trusty witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zachariah son of Jeberechiah (Isaiah 8:2).
Now what connection has this Uriah the priest with Zechariah? Uriah lived during the times of the First Temple, while [the other,] Zechariah lived [and prophesied] during the Second Temple; but Scripture linked the [later] prophecy of Zechariah with the [earlier] prophecy of Uriah, In the [earlier] prophecy [in the days] of Uriah it is written, Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field, [and Jerusalem become heaps of ruins and the Temple mount a high forest] (Micah 3:12; Jeremiah 26:18–20). In Zechariah it is written, Thus said YHWH of Armies: Again shall old men and old women sit in the squares of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:4), so long as Uriah’s [threatening] prophecy had not had its fulfilment, I had misgivings lest Zechariah’s prophecy might not be fulfilled; now that Uriah’s prophecy has been [literally] fulfilled, it is quite certain that Zechariah’s prophecy also is to find its literal fulfilment. They said to him: Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!” (BT Makkot 24a–b, cf. JT Berakhot 2:4, 5a).
“Rabbi Zeira was evading Rav Yehudah because he wanted to go up to the land of Israel while Rav Yehudah had said, ‘Whoever goes up from Babylon to the land of Israel transgresses a positive commandment, for it is said, To Babylonia shall they be brought, and there shall they be until the day I attend to them and bring them up and return them to this place (Jeremiah 27:22).’ But Rabbi Zeira [says this verse refers] to the vessels of ministry [as is written, For thus said YHWH of Armies God of Israel concerning the vessels remaining in the house of YHWH… (ibid., 21)]. And Rav Yehudah?—it is also written: I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field… (Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5).
And Rabbi Zeira?—this implies that Israel shall not go up [all together as if surrounded] by a wall [alt., ‘like a wall’]. And Rav Yehudah?—another swear to Me is written in Scripture. And Rabbi Zeira?—this is required for [an exposition] like that of Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina who said: ‘What was the purpose of those three adjurations [see Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5; 5:8]? One, that Israel shall not go up [altogether as if surrounded] by a wall; the second, that whereby the blessed Holy One adjured Israel that they shall not rebel against the nations of the world; and the third is that whereby the blessed Holy One adjured the nations that they shall not oppress Israel יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי (yoter middai), too much’ [cf. Zohar Ḥadash 56c: ‘It will be discovered that they had oppressed excessively by a measure and a half. In response, He demotes them from every realm and branch’].
And Rav Yehudah?—it is written that you will not rouse not stir love until it is ripe (Song of Songs 2:7). And Rabbi Zeira?—that text is required for [an exposition] like that of Rabbi Levi who stated: ‘What was the purpose of those six adjurations [each of the three adjurations is repeated]?—three for the purposes just mentioned and the others, that [the prophets] shall not make known the end, that [the people] shall not delay the end [by their misdeeds], and that they shall not reveal the secret to the nations.’ By the deer or the gazelles of the field—Rabbi El’azar explained: The blessed Holy One said to Israel, ‘If you will keep the adjuration, well and good; but if not, I will permit your flesh [to be a prey] like [that of] the deer or the gazelles of the field’” (BT Ketubbot 110b–111a).
“Resh Laqish was swimming in the Jordan. Thereupon Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana came and gave him the hand: If she is a wall, we will build on her a silver turret. If she is a door, we will besiege her with cedar boards (Song of Songs 8:9). Had you [Assembly of Israel] made yourself like a wall and had all come up in the days of Ezra, you would have been compared to silver, which no rottenness can ever affect. Now that you have come up like doors, you are like cedar boards, over which rottenness prevails” (BT Yoma 9b).
“Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘All this is longer than the Companions have established, namely, one day of exile for Assembly of Israel, no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).’ He replied, ‘So I learned from father in the mysteries of letters of the Holy Name, the duration of the world and the days of Creation—all a single mystery” (Zohar 1:116a–18b).
“Rabbi Yitsḥaq opened, ‘Before the day breathes and the shadows flee (Song of Songs 4:6). Before the day breathes—the exile of Israel; that they would be subjugated in exile until the day when rule of the peoples is ended.’ For we have learned that Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘The dominion of all peoples together over Israel would last one thousand years. There is no people that would not subjugate them. ‘One day’ corresponds to: But it shall be one day which shall be known to YHWH, [not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light](Zechariah 14:7).
Another explanation: Before the day שֶׁיָּפוּחַ (sheyafuaḥ), breathes—before that day the peoples יָפוּחַ (yafuaḥ), expire. And the shadows flee—princes ruling over them. I will hurry to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense (Song of Songs 4:6). Said the blessed Holy One ‘I will betake Myself to shake the peoples from Jerusalem, the הַר הַמּוֹר (har ha-mor), the mountain of myrrh,’ as is written, Jerusalem on הַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה (har ha-moriyah), mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). And to the hill of frankincense—the Temple that is in Zion, as it is written, Lovely in heights, all the earth’s joy, Mount Zion (Psalms 48:3). And it is written, To seize the earth’s corners, that the wicked be shaken from it (Job 38:13)—as one holds a garment to shake all the filth from it.’
Rabbi Yose said, ‘The blessed Holy One will eventually be revealed in earthly Jerusalem, and purify it from the filth of the peoples, before the day of the peoples is complete [cf. BT Ta’anit 5a].’ For Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Dominion over Israel lasts only one day, and that is a day of the blessed Holy One which is one thousand years [cf. BT Sanhderin 97a; Bahir §5: ‘Each day of the blessed Holy One is a thousand years, as it is written, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like yesterday gone (Psalms 90:4)’]. This is what is written, He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13)—one day, and no more.’
Rabbi Yose said, ‘If they are subjugated more than one thousand years, it is not because of the King’s decree, but rather because they do not wish to return before Him [in repentance to the land of Israel]. And it is written, And it shall be, when all these things come upon you, [the blessing and the curse that I have set before you, that your heart shall turn back among all the nations to which YHWH your God will make you to stray] (Deuteronomy 30:1–2), and, Should your strayed one be at the edge of the heavens, from there shall YHWH your God gather you (ibid., 4)’” (Zohar 2:17a, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).
“He opened, saying, ‘Look, the day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd. Water the sheep and go and let them graze (Genesis 29:7). This verse has already been established, for when the people of Israel arouse teshuvah before the blessed Holy One, by the merit of Torah they will return to the Holy Land and be gathered from exile. For surely the exile of Israel will be for one day and no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).
If they do not engage in teshuvah, the blessed Holy One says, Look, the day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd—without merit, without worthy deeds. But there is one remedy for you: Go, water the sheep—delve into Torah and be watered by it—and go and let them graze in a restful place, in the fine, desirable place of your inheritance.’
Alternatively, He said, ‘Look, the day is still long…‘—the day called a day of tumult and din and confusion (Isaiah 22:5), on which the Temple was destroyed and Israel fell into exile. In the face of evil deeds, that day is prolonged and extended, as is written: The day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd—because they are prolonging that day. Water the sheep—as has been said, with words of Torah, for by the merit of Torah Israel will come out of exile” (Zohar 3:270a–b).
“Open for me, my sister, my friend, my dove, תַמָּתִי (tammati), my perfect one (Songs of Songs 5:2). Because, תַּם (tam), Complete, is thepunishment of your offence, O daughter of Zion; He will no more carry you away into exile (Lamentations 4:22).
For my head is filled with dew (Song of Songs 5:2). Filled with dew? Rather, the blessed Holy One says, ‘Do you then imagine that from the day the Holy Temple was destroyed I have entered My house, or entered My dwelling place? Not so! I have not entered at all since the time of your exile. Behold you have a sign: For my head is filled withdew.‘
הא (He)—Shekhinah in exile [separated from יוה (Yod He Vav)]. Her perfection and Her life is טַל (tal), dew, and this is: יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav). הא (He) is Shekhinah which is not of the dew. But יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav) is numerically equivalent to ל״ט (thirty-nine) [and טַל (tal), dew]. He fills Shekhinah from the flowing of all supernal sources” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 17b).
Thus said YHWH of Armies, saying, “This people have said, ‘The time has not come, the time for rebuilding the house of YHWH.’” And the word of YHWH came through Haggai the prophet, saying: “Is this the time for you to sit in your paneled houses when this house is in ruins?” (Haggai 1:2–4).
“Rabbi Yoḥanan: The blessed Holy One said, ‘I will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem until I can enter the earthly Jerusalem.’ Is there then a heavenly Jerusalem? Yes, as is written, Jerusalem built like a town that is joined fast together (Psalms 122:3)” (BT Ta’anit 5a).
Not by might and not by power but by My spirit, said YHWH of Armies (Zechariah 4:6).
The lawless sons of your people shall be raised up to fulfill the vision, but they shall stumble (Daniel 11:14).
“Enhance Zion with Your favor, build the walls of Jerusalem (Psalms 51:20). Enhance Zion with Your favor—informing us as follows: Why enhance? It seems that she already has goodness, and now, enhance that goodness. Certainly so! For ever since the day that the blessed Holy One engaged in building the Temple above until now, that goodness of favor has not settled upon that edifice, and so it has not been completed. However, when favor above rouses, with goodness will He tend and kindle the lights of that edifice and that creation, so that even the angels above will be unable to gaze at the Temple or at the structure. Then the whole work will be completed. Build the walls of Jerusalem.
Now, since the day that the blessed Holy One engaged in building the Temple until now, has He not built them? If He has not built the walls of Jerusalem, then certainly not the Temple! However, all actions of the blessed Holy One differ from the actions of human beings. When human beings built the Temple, they first constructed the walls of the city and finally the Temple—walls of the city first to protect them, then building the Temple. Not so with the blessed Holy One; rather, He builds the Temple first, and finally, when He lowers it and sets it in place, then He will build the walls of Jerusalem, the walls of the city. Thus, Enhance Zion with Your favor, first; and then, build the walls of Jerusalem” (Zohar 2:108b).
On that day I will raise up the fallen shelter of David and I will stop up its breaches and its ruins will I raise and rebuild it as in days of yore, so that they take hold of the remnant of Edom and all the nations on which My name has been called, said YHWH, who does this (Amos 9:11).
I have hearkened to your prayer and to your plea that you pleaded before Me. I have sanctified this house that you built to set My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart shall be there for all time (1 Kings 9:3).
“Rav Shmu’el son of Abba said: The blessed Holy One said to Israel, ‘Even though the House is destined to be destroyed and the sacrifices nullified, do not forget the order of the sacrifices, but rather be careful to learn them and review them. And if you occupy yourselves with them, I will reckon it to you as if you were occupied with the sacrifices.’
Come and see: When the blessed Holy One showed Ezekiel the design of the House, what did He say? You, man, tell the house of Israel about the house, and let them be ashamed of their crimes, and let them measure its design (Ezekiel 43:10). Ezekiel said before the blessed Holy One: Master of the Universe! Until now we are in exile delivered into in the land of our enemies, yet You say to me go and tell Israel the design of the House, [and if they are ashamed of all that they have done, inform them of the plan of the house and its design…] and write them before there eyes that they may observe all its design and its regulations [and do them] (ibid., 11). And are they able to do [them]?! Leave them until they go up from exile, and afterwards I will go and tell them. The blessed Holy One said to Ezekiel: And because My children are in exile, will the building of My House be nullified? The blessed Holy One said to him: Like its building, great is its reading in Torah. Go and say it to them and they will occupy themselves with reading the design of the House in Torah. And in reward for its reading, that they occupy themselves in its reading, I reckon it to them as if they were occupied with the building of the House.
And happy is the man who engages in Torah and gives his money to teach Torah to his son. As on account of the money that he gives for teaching, he merits life in the world to come, as is said, For He is your life and your length of days (Deuteronomy 30:20). Your life—in the world to come; and your length of days—in the world that is long. And know that it is so. Rabbi Asya said: Why do the schoolchildren of Rabban’s house study the book of Leviticus? Since all the sacrifices are written in it, and because they are pure until now and do not know the taste of offense and crime. Therefore, the blessed Holy One said: Let them first begin with the order of the sacrifices—let pure ones come and occupy themselves with acts of purification. Therefore, I reckon it to them as if they were standing and offering sacrifices before Me. And He is informing you that even though the Temple is destroyed and sacrifices are not practiced, were it not for schoolchildren that read the order of sacrifices, the world would not stand. Therefore, the blessed Holy One said to Israel: My children, even though the Temple is destroyed and the sacrifices are nullified and the sacrifice of the burnt offering is not practiced, if you occupy yourselves with reading the portion of the burnt offering and study the portion of sacrifices, I reckon it to you as if you were offering the sacrifice of a burnt offering before Me, as is said, This it the teaching forthe burnt offering (Leviticus 7:37)—one who occupies himself with the teaching of the burnt offering merits life in the world to come. What is written above? Should a person offend and betray YHWH’s trust and dissemble with his fellow [about a deposit or a pledge, or by theft, or defraud his fellow, or should he find something lost… he shall pay back the principal and add a fifth to him to whom it belongs he shall give it, when his guilt is confirmed] (Leviticus 5:21). And afterwards: This it the teaching forthe burnt offering. Isaiah said: For I, YHWH, love justice, and hate robbery (Isaiah 61:8)—with a burnt offering. The blessed Holy One says: Do not say, ‘I will steal and defraud, and bring a burnt offering and it will atone for me.’ Since I hate theft, even with a burnt offering made for theft. And if the world wants Me to accept a burnt offering, return the theft to its owner. Afterwards, if he bring up a burnt offering for it, I will accept it, as is said, For I, YHWH… hate robbery with a burnt offering—I hate the burnt offering when the theft is still in his hand.
And one who reads the teaching of the burnt offering is as if he brings and offers up a burnt offering before the blessed Holy One. Therefore, happy is the one who teaches himself Torah and gives his money to teach himself and his sons, as is said, And this is the teaching of the communion sacrifice (Leviticus 7:11). Israel said before the blessed Holy One: Master of the Universe: Behold You command us that we bring all of these sacrifices. When the Temple was still in existence, a man that offended brought a sacrifice and it ransomed for him. And so [too], he brought a meal offering and it was accepted. But now that the Temple is destroyed, what can we do for our offenses and for our guilt? The blessed Holy One said to them: If you want them to be atonement for you, keep My laws, and I will reckon it to you as if you offered up sacrifice before Me. From where is this known? This is the teaching for the burnt offering, for the grain offering, and for the offense offering and for the guilt offering and for the installation offering and for the communion sacrifice [which YHWH charged Moses on Mount Sinai…] (Leviticus 7:37). Do not read it so: [This is the teaching לָעוֹלָה (la-olah), for the burnt offering…], but rather: This is the teaching לֹא לָעוֹלָה (lo la-olah), not the burnt offering, not the grain offering, and not the offense offering and not the guilt offering and not the installation offering and not the communion sacrifice. Rather, occupy yourselves with Torah, and it will be reckoned by Me as if you offered up all of the sacrifices before Me. Therefore, David said, How I loved Your teaching. All day long it was my theme (Psalms 119:97)—since I know that engaging in Your Torah atones for crime, thus How I loved Your teaching.
What is [This is the teaching of the burnt offering. It is the very burnt offering] over its flame on the altar all night till morning (Leviticus 6:2)? That they burn the fats and the limbs the entire night. And the prayers were instituted corresponding to the sacrifices [cf. BT Berakhot 26b: ‘Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi says: The prayers were instituted to replace the daily sacrifices’]. Now that we do not have burnt offerings, nor sacrifices, nor meal offerings, nor guilt offerings, they instituted them as prayers. And the evening prayer can be brought the whole night, just as we bring limbs and fats the whole night. But the Patriarchs instituted the prayers, and this means to say, its burning is on the altar the whole night. And why was the burning on the altar and not in another place? Rather, the verse says, An earthen altar shall you make for Me, [and you shall sacrifice upon it your burnt offerings and your communion sacrifices, your sheep and your cattle] (Exodus 20:24). Why earthen? Because the human was created from the soil, and his name was called אָדָם (adam), human, because he was taken from the אֲדָמָה (adamah), humus. And we offer up burnt offerings and sacrifices on that altar, made of earth, to atone for the body that is taken from the soil. And from where do we know that it ransoms for a life? As is written, For the life of all flesh, its blood is in its life (Leviticus 17:14). And it also says, for it is the blood that ransoms in exchange for life (ibid., 11). And cast the blood round the altar (ibid. 1:5). And cast the blood—the life; round the altar—of soil which is like the body; that ransoms in exchange for life. A perpetual fire shall keep burning on the altar. It shall not go out (ibid. 6:6). And it says, And they shall go out and see the corpses of the people who rebelled against Me, for their worm shall never die and their fire shall not go out (Isaiah 66:24)—those that deny the Omnipresent. But the perpetual fire on the altar atones for the offenses of Israel.
And what is מִזְבֵּחַ (mizbeaḥ), altar? מ (Mem)—מְחִלָּה (meḥillah), wipe out, as it מּוֹחֵל (moḥel), pardons, their crimes; ז (zayin)—זְכוּת (zechut), merit, as it gives them merit for the world to come; ב (bet)—בְּרָכָה (berakhah), blessing, as the blessed Holy One brings them blessing in the work of their hands; ח (ḥet)—חַיִּים (ḥayyim), life, as they merit life in the world to come. One who leaves all of these (pardon, merit, blessing, and life) and goes and serves foreign worship, is burned by His great fire, as is said, For YHWH your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24). How is He jealous? As is said, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness (Hosea 2:22)—just as a husband is jealous for his wife, so too the blessed Holy One is jealous, as is said, [As a young man beds a virgin…] and a bridegroom’s rejoicing over the bride [shall your God rejoice over you] (Isaiah 62:5). One who leaves all these will be burnt by His great fire, as is said, For their worm shall never die and their fire shall not go out, and they shall be a horror to all flesh (ibid. 66:24). However, if he repents, the fire burning on the altar ransoms for him and extinguishes the fires of Hell” (Tanḥuma, Tsav 14).
“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 [cf. Zohar 1:74a; Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 1:1 (5): ‘Rabbi Berekhiah said, It is not written here: The House that they were building, but rather: The House, in its being built (1 Kings 6:7). It was built by itself!’].
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).