Kenneth Cohen

Longing for the Temple

The Jewish people have had some kind of Temple in operation for approximately 1,310 years. We left Egypt 3,336 years ago. We are now in the year 5784 and we left Egypt in the year 2448 after creation.

We are told in the Haftara of Teruma that comes from Kings I, Chapter six, verse one, that the Temple of Shlomo was completed 480 years after the exodus from Egypt. Shlomo’s Temple lasted 410 years, and the Second Temple lasted 420 years. This is how we get to the number of 1310. This is a simplification as there were brief periods during the 480 years, where the Mishkan was not functioning.

This means that for more than a third of our history, our religious observance included pilgrimages to the Temple, and the offering of sacrifices. It has been 1,956 years since the Second Temple was destroyed. We were also without a Temple for seventy years, between the two Temples.

Sadly, we have gotten used to observing Judaism without the benefit of the Temple. Most people do not realize the huge difference there was in religious life, when we had a functioning Temple. We were truly able to feel Hashem’s Presence and closeness.

All of the holidays had a different meaning to them. When Jews made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year, they were greatly uplifted. The air of Jerusalem gave off the sweet fragrance of the incense offered on the altar. The Temple service of the Kohanim, and the singing and service of the Leviim, were a sight to behold. Yom Kippur was the ultimate day of serving Hashem, where the entire nation was elevated.

Many mistakenly view the Temple as a very large synagogue. It was so much more than that. It was a place where we saw the fulfillment of the Pasuk from Yechezkel. “You will be My people, and I will be your G-d.”

We must study the details of the Beit Hamikdash and long for it to be rebuilt. Some say that if this longing will be strong enough, it will come to be much sooner. May we witness this speedily in our time.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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