By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
You Shall Eat Matza
Although we are commanded to eat matza and separate ourselves from hametz only seven (or eight) days a year, there is one place where this principle applies year-round: the altar in the Beit Hamikdash. Although there are “offerings” that are brought in the Beit Hamikdash that contain hametz (such as the Two Loaves and the Toda breads), the truth is that these are not really “true offerings,” offerings that are brought upon the altar in the Beit Hamikdash. Even more fascinating is the fact that our Sages teach that Adam was created from the earth present at the place of the altar on the Temple Mount. Not only this, but the Rabbis teach that different chambers and buildings in the Temple correspond to different parts of the human body. We may also add that just as man is made of a combination between the soul i.e “spark from the Holy Presence” and the “earthly” body; so too, the Temple is the place where the Holy Presence meets earth. In this way we may explain that while on the human level (i.e “spark of the Holy Presence”), matza is obligated and hametz is forbidden only on Pesach, on the spiritual level of the Holy Presence in the Beit Hamikdash, this standard of matza and prohibition on hametz must be kept constantly. In addition, our Sages teach that the blood put on the doorposts of the Israelites in the first Pesach in Egypt corresponds to the blood put on the corners of the altar. Interestingly, the numerical value of matza – 135 – is equivalent to the width of the Temple in cubits, 135 cubits. What does all this mean?
Our Sages teach that for “one who has knowledge – “da’at” – it is considered as if the Temple was built in his lifetime (Brachot 33). Also, our Sages teach us that a child receives knowledge – “da’at” – only when he begins to eat grain (Brachot 40). In addition, the Torah mentions numerous times that the purpose of the Exodus and the way it was performed was so that we should “know that Hashem is your God.” The attribute used by Hashem in the redemption can be seen in the verse “and God saw the Children of Israel and God knew.” “Daat” is also a term that connotes “unity” as it says “and Adam “yada”/“knew” Hava his wife.” Taking all these sources together, we more deeply understand the significance of the commandment to eat matza and the prohibition on hametz. Matza is grain-based bread made out of the “unity” between flour and water. When this “unity” is solidified by baking then this unity stays constant. However, when there is a break in this unity through a lapse of time when the dough is not “unified” by kneading or dealing with the dough towards its baking, i.e its solidification of this unity, then this dough becomes hametz. Note, however, that this is the principle of hametz as our Sages taught that “as long as the dough is dealt with it does not become hametz” (Orach Haim 452, 2), but in practice the 18 minute rule (the time limit matza must be made today) was instituted later to standardize matza-baking to minimize problems in this process. Then, when we eat the matza we unify ourselves with the food of “daat,” the “food of unity,” thereby internalizing “knowing Hashem” and “Hashem’s knowing” us by the redemption in the past and in our present redemption – as “in each generation a person is to see themselves as if he himself was redeemed.”
As we mentioned, this Divine state of unity on Pesach is constant in the Beit Hamikdash, the place where the Holy Presence unites with earth. This matter also explains why Hebron, which means unity, was such an important step towards the building of the Beit Hamikdash according to the Zohar and the Arizal, which describe King David’s rule in Hebron as a spiritual process meant to pave the way towards the building of the Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #297
“I (Rabbi Shlomo Goren) decided to be there when the IDF liberated Hebron. I thought there would be a big battle, like there had been everywhere else, because if the legion had fought for Bethlehem, they would fight even harder for Hebron which was a large city. As dawn approached, the soldiers started organizing for their departure. On the way we met the battalion’s reconnaissance company and passed it. Suddenly my driver said, “Rabbi, we’re the first ones here. There are no soldiers ahead of us. The entire brigade is behind us. We could get stuck in Hebron alone, and who knows what they’ll do to us.” “Drive on,” I told him. We advanced toward Hebron, and when we entered the city we saw that all the houses along the main road were festooned with white sheets, hung from all the balconies. The Hebron municipality and the military forces in Hebron had decided on a self-imposed curfew and ordered that no one leave their homes. I wanted to inform them that the IDF had already conquered Hebron, even though at this stage the IDF force was only me and the jeep. I mounted the podium, took the Uzi and fired a whole magazine of bullets into the air, to notify the residents of the city that the Israel Defense Forces was inside the city and that we had captured Hebron… (Later,) I heard the sound of a tank approaching the site (Maarat Hamachpela). That was the first tank that entered Hebron, and it was adorned with an improvised flag – a sheet on which the soldiers had drawn a blue Star of David. The soldiers had taken the flag from David’s Citadel (in Jerusalem). I climbed up onto the tank’s turret and hung the flag at the entrance to the compound (of Maarat Hamachpela). Many pictures of me hanging that flag were later published in Israel and around the world.”
Source: With Might and Strength, Rabbi Shlomo Goren
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