In this week’s Parsha, Moshe prophetically tells the Jewish people that they would miraculously cross the Jordan River into the land of Israel and immediately be ushered to the City of Shechem. They would stand on two mountains, Har Grizim and Har Aival where they would accept and recommit themselves to the Torah in the Land of Israel.
Moshe alluded to two places where the Jews were to set up full functioning Temples in the land of Israel. One in the area of Shilo, and the other in Jerusalem at Mount Moriah.
Our connection and right to the Land of Israel began when G-d told our forefather Avraham to leave his homeland Charan and travel to an undisclosed location. Avraham obeyed and G-d led him to the Land of Israel. G-d then promised Avraham that his descendants would inherit the land.
While in Israel Avraham offered sacrifices at various times and locations. Most notably, he was instructed to offer his son Yitzchok on Mount Moriah and was prepared to do so. He was then told not to sacrifice him and Avraham offered a ram instead.
The Torah relates that our forefathers Yitzchok and Yaacov also offered sacrifices to G-d in certain areas in the land of Israel.
Once Yaacov left with his entire family to Egypt, marking the start of the Egyptian exile, the Jews did not offer any sacrifices until they were instructed to offer the Pascal lamb the day before they left Egypt.
When the Jews were in the desert, sacrifices were offered at Mount Sinai prior to G-d’s Revelation.
After the Jews sinned with the golden calf and were forgiven, G-d instructed them to construct a transportable Temple where sacrifices would be offered. Originally, the firstborn males were designated as the priests, however, they lost this position due to their involvement with the golden calf, and the Kehunah – priesthood was handed over to Aaron and his sons. The rest of the Levite tribe were appointed to serve and assist with other Temple functions. The Temple in the desert functioned for 39 years.
When the Jews entered into the land of Israel they set up the Temple in a place called Gilgal. It remained and functioned there for 14 years during the time that the Jews were conquering and dividing the land according to the tribal units.
During this time, certain sacrifices to G-d were even permitted to be offered on personal altars.
Once they were all settled in their tribal parcels of land, a new Temple made with stone walls and a ceiling of cloth was constructed in the area of Shilo. This Temple stood for 369 years. During the Shilo Temple period personal altars were prohibited.
Shilo was situated in the land allotted to the tribe of Ephraim. Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin o.b.m. wonders why there was no contention between the tribes with each one wanting the Temple to be set up in their area. He explains that the area of Shilo had a history to it. The Torah tells us that Avraham set up an altar, offered sacrifices and built a tent to feed and influence people about the monotheistic belief in G-d. The location of this place was where the Shilo Temple was located. The Jews all recognized Avraham’s previous spiritual influence at that location and were all in agreement to have the Temple built there.
After the Philistines stole the Holy Ark from the Shilo Temple it was disbanded and a temporary Temple without the Ark was set up in a place called Nov where it remained for 13 years and then the Temple was moved to Givon where it remained for 44 years.
During this 57 year period, certain sacrifices were once again permitted on personal altars.
King David with the assistance of the prophet Noson located the ultimate area where our Temple would be permanently located. The location, Mount Moriah, was from where G-d formed the world and is where Avraham bound his son Yitzchok and where Yaacov had a prophetic dream. King David collected money from all the Tribes with which to purchase the area from Arnon. David laid the foundation for the Temple.
440 years after the Jews entered into Israel, King Solomon built the first Temple. This occurred 900 years after Avraham first stepped foot into Israel.
Once this Temple was built sacrificing on personal altars was forbidden forever.
The first Temple stood for 410 years. After it was destroyed there was a 70 year exile, the second Temple was then rebuilt and stood for 420 years.
It has been over 1950 years since our Temple was destroyed, yet Jews from all over the world pray in the direction of the Temple. They also flock to the Western Wall to pray. We trust in the rebuilding of our third and everlasting Temple. This is indicative of the resolute hope, energy, and spirit that we inherited from our righteous forefathers who were so promised!