January 4, 2021
For better or worse, our actions influence and instruct. They reverberate for future generations and the future Temple. Historically, the heichal or Temple shares a transcendent connection with people. One couple long ago elevated a Menorah light for strangers. Just as the Menorah burned through the night in the Temple, the candles in Abraham’s tent endured through week.
Just as the bread on the shulcan or Table of Showbread remained fresh all week, the bread Sarah baked was edible for a week. The Divine Presence which enveloped the heichal recalled the glorious cloud over the dwelling of Abraham and Sarah. The righteous acts of this couple touched the future avodah or Temple service.
Thus, when Abraham obediently constructed an altar to sacrifice his son, only one site was suitable. He had to offer Yitzhak on Har HaBayit, the Mountain of the House – the Temple Mount. The Altar of Burnt Offering in the Temple Courtyard was situated on the bedrock of Mount Moriah for this purpose. Yitzhak allowed himself to be bound for sacrifice at the site of the future Temple altar.
In a sense, Yitzhak did become an olah – a whole burnt offering which is elevated and consumed. He was not literally sacrificed. Yet, his ashes figuratively resonate on the altar forever. Later, when chosen Temple priests cleansed the altar of ashes, Yitzhak’s ashes symbolically remained there. Thus, Yitzhak is another hidden figure in the Temple narrative – as are you.
The actions of the ancient patriarchs engendered a new reality on the earth. Our actions precipitate the future, as well. May we be inspired by the Yetzer HaTov, the Good Inclination which results from our logical Temple worship. It is time to present our bodies as a living offering on a living altar, set-apart and well-pleasing to Elohim (Romans 12:1).