Prayer Essentials

For the week ending 20 June 2015 / 3 Tammuz 5775

Shemoneh Esrei: The Fourteenth Blessing: Part 2

by Rabbi Yitzchak Botton
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Partners in Creation

“Blessed are You (Who is) building Jerusalem.”

Seeing as the third Beit Hamikdash has not been built yet, why is the Hebrew word for “building” — boneh — written in the present tense instead of the future tense?

It is important to mention that unlike the First and Second Temples, which were built by the Jewish People, the Third and final Temple will be built by G-d according to many authorities. Thus the Third Temple will have an “advantage” over the first two, as it will be the work of G-d, and it will therefore never be destroyed.

The above idea presents us with a difficulty. Certainly the Jewish People took great pride in the first two Temples that they built in order to provide a dwelling place for the Divine Presence. Now if the final Beit Hamikdash will be built by G-d, something will be “missing”. Let us compare this to a guest staying at a friend’s house. As comfortable as his friend will try to make him feel, he will not be as comfortable as in his own home. This idea can also be compared to a child living in the house of his parents. Even if he has everything he needs, it is all given to him for free, and also nothing in the house actually belongs to him.

The Jewish People are called the “children of G-d”, and just as a child is supported by his parents, we will be taken care of by G-d. This, however, may leave us feeling a lack of self-worth, since we will be benefiting from G-d’s bounty and not from our own. Our Sages therefore teach that Torah scholars (and all who learn Torah) are not to be called “children”, but rather “builders”. But how can that be so since the Torah clearly refers to the Jewish People as G-d’s “children”. The intent of our Sages is not to negate the fact that we are G-d’s children, but rather to teach that we are not “only” children, but “builders” as well.

The deeper meaning of the above idea is that although we are G-d’s children, through our learning of Torah and fulfillment of mitzvot we become builders. As builders we become partners with G-d in Creation by helping to bring this world to its completed and perfected state.

We can now understand why the word for “building” is written in the present tense. With each good action that we do, we are actually building a part of the world, bringing it closer to perfection. When this job will be finished, G-d will deliver us from exile and cause the Third Temple to descend from Heaven. Although this Temple will be the work of G-d, through our Torah and mitzvot we will be partners in its building.

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