Chapter 8

 

 

THE JEWISH UTOPIA

BY

MICHAEL HIGGER, Ph. D.

THE LORD BALTIMORE PRESS 

BALTIMORE, MD.

1932


CHAPTER VIII
A SPIRITUAL CENTER



Alongside the dream of an ideal Jerusalem in an ideal Zion, we frequently find in rabbinic literature the hope and the yearning for the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem in the ideal era to come.484 According to one view, the rebuilding of the Temple will take place even before the establishment of the rule of the house of David.485 A number of sources indicate that many ceremonies that were performed at the First Temple will also be perforrned at the Temple of the future.486

With regard to animal sacrifices proper, in the Temple of the future era, however, we find three distinct views scattered throughout rabbinic literature. First, there is the more conservative view that sacrifices will take place in that Temple Just as they were performed in the first two Temples.487 The Jewish prayebook, too, contains numerous prayers for the rebuilding of the sanctuary at Jerusalem, so that sacrifices may be offered in the future as they were in the past. Here is one typical prayer of that kind, used for the additional service for New Year: "Lead us with exultation unto Zion thy city, and unto Jerusalem the place of thy sanctuary with everlasting joy; and there we will prepare before thee the offerings that are obligatory for us, as is commanded us in thy Law through the hand of Moses thy servant, from the mouth of thy glory." 488
Another view, which is more progressive in nature, is that all animal sacrifices, with the exception of the thank-offering, will cease.489 This attitude is probably based on the assumption, that, in the ideal era, man will be perfect, and that evil inclinations in man causing him to sin will be no more. Since most

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of the sacrifices come as an atonement for the sins and shortcomings of mortals, there will be no room for such sacrifices in the ideal state of social justice and righteousness, when all men will lead an ideal and godly life. There will be, however, a demand, on the part of the people, for a thank-offering, as an outlet for their expression of gratitude to God for the abundance and happiness in which a happy humanity will equally share. It may be of historical interest to note that the author of this theory is a non-Judaean Tanna by the name of R. Menahem ish Gallia - or according to one reading Galil. He was thus either a Galatian of Asia Minor, or a Galilean. Another lenient view of his is recorded somewhere else in connection with a law about the Sabbath.490 A similar view concerning animal sacrifices in the future era, is implied in a passage found in one of the Sibylline Books: "And from every land they shall bring frankincense and gifts to the house of the great God; and there shall be no other house for men even in future generations to know but only that which He has given to faithful men to honour." 491
The third theory, found in rabbinic literature, concerning animal sacrifices in the TempIe of the future, is the radicaI view that there will be no sacrifices whatever, and that righteousness and justice in action, will take the place of sacrifices.492 Indeed, all the other characteristics and symbolic significances, ascribed by the rabbis to the Temple in the ideal era, would seem to uphold this view concerning animal sacrifices. The Temple, above all, will signify the Kingdom of God on earth.493 The Lord Himself will build the everlasting Temple, in which He will cause His Divine Presence to dwell eternally, and to which all the worshippers of the world will direct their prayers.494 The name of God will be sanctified in the world, when His sanctuary will be established at Jerusalem.495 The Holy One will renew His world from Zion, when, in the words of Isaiah, "the mountain of the Lord's

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house shall be established as the top of the mountains ".495 The Temple will, therefore, become the spiritual center of all the peoples on earth, so that it will be the focus of spiritual life for all the nations in the world. Isaiah's prophecy will then be fulfilled: "And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His
ways, and we will walk in His paths.' " 496
The ideal house of God will likewise symbolize the end of strife and wars in the world, and the establishment of genuine, universal peace: And the Lord of the sheep rejoiced with great joy because they were all good and had returned to His house. And I saw till they laid down that sword . . . and they brought it back into the house, and it was sealed before the presence of the Lord, and all the sheep were invited in to that house, but it held them not. . . . And I saw that that house was large and broad and very full." 497
The Temple, furthermore, will signify the rule of the righteous in the world, and the disappearance of the wicked.498 That spiritual center will be built only when the unrighteous nations will reign no more.498a One of the morning prayers thus reads:  “Gather our scattered ones from the four corners of the earth. Let them that go stray be judged according to thy will. . . . Let the righteous rejoice in the rebuilding of thy city, and in the establishment of thy temple, and in the flourishing of the horn of David thy servant, and in the clear-shining light of the son of Jesse, thine anointed." 499 Indeed, the test of the new righteous world will be the renewed spiritual Temple. An age in which society functions in righteousness, will have also a univeral spiritual center, a symbol of the new era of righteousness.500 That Temple will be the pride and glory of the righteous.501 The Temple will also be the seat of genuine justice.502 The prophecy of Isaiah will thus be realized: "Therefore thus

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saith the Lord God: Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a costly corner-stone of sure foundation. . . . And I will make justice the line, and righteousness
the plummet." 508
Similarly, the Lord will recreate the new Israel at the ideal Temple.504 Israel, the ideal people of justice and righteousness, will have her spiritual center at the Temple, through which they will promulgate and proclaim the justice and righteousness, the glory and greatness, of the Lord.505 The ideal Temple in the ideal era will consequently be the spiritual light of the whole world, disseminating the glory of God, and the blessings of life, throughout all the nations of the earth.506
The magnificent and exquisite structure of the new Temple will be surrounded by lakes and fruitful trees, as pictured in the forty-seventh chapter of Ezekiepo507 The ideal Temple in an ideal Jerusalem, the capital of an ideal Palestine, will thus be the source of universal joy, blessings, goodness, gladness, and happiness.508 References to the ideal Temple are also found in the Pseudepigraphal literature. Here is a striking statement as found in the Book of
Jubilees: "For the Lord has four places on the earth, the Garden of Eden, and the Mount of the East, and this mountain on which thou art this day, Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion which will be sanctified in the new creation for a sanctification of the earth; through it will the earth be sanctified from all its guilt and its uncleanness throughout the generations of the world." 509 A similar description of the structure and purpose of the ideal Temple is found in one of the Sibylline Books: "And made a temple execeding fair in its fair sanctuary, and fashioned it in size of many furlongs, with a giant tower touching the very clouds and seen of  all, so that all the faithful and all the righteous may see the glory of the invisible God, the vision of delight. East and West have hymned forth the glory of

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God; for no longer are wretched mortals beset with deeds of shame, adulteries and unnatural passions for boys, murder and tumult, but rivalry is fair among all." 510
With regard to the problem of the priests and the priesthood in the ideal Temple, it should be stated that that question resembles the problem of sacrifices of animals in the Temple of the future. There are two distinct tendencies recorded in rabbinic literature, concerning the question of the priesthood. We find, on the one hand, that that institution will be entrusted to the hands of the descendants of Aaron, the High Priest, whose main functions will be to act as custodians of the ceremonial services at the Temple.511 The Levites, likewise, will, with a few minor changes in the songs and in the musical instruments, continue their duties in accordance with tradition.512
A number of rabbinic sources, on the other hand, record protests against the abuses of the priesthood in the past, and picture that institution in the future ideal era, as one of scholarship, learning, moral integrity, deanliness, and true service of God. When R. Eliezer ben Jose ha-Gelili, a Tanna of the second century, and one of R. Akiba's later disciples, was describing the ideal man of the future, he remarked:
When the Torah speaks of Israel as a kingdom of priests, we might infer that the ideal Israel will be a dass of idlers. The verse, therefore, concludes: 'And a holy nation.'"513 This remark insinuates that the priesthood in the past was far from being holy, and that the ideal man in the future will, therefore, be far superior, both morally and spiritually.514 Another rabbinic charge against the priesthood is that the priests neglected their studies of the Torah.515 A priest, therefore, who shares the material benefits of the priesthood, but is no scholar, will not be acceptable in the ideal era as a member of the priesthood. This is in accordance with Malachi's description of the ideal priest: "For the priest's lips should

 

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keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." 516
When the priesthood is morally corrupt, and the priests do not live up to the spiritual standard as formulated by Malachi, spiritual and moral chaos exists, the conditions of which are described in Job: "A land of thick darkness, as darkness itself; a land of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness."517 It is perhaps for this reason that the rabbis state, that, in the present era, God commanded Aaron and his sons, or the tribe of Levi, to bless Israel. But in the ideal era, the Lord Himself will bless the ideal people.518 Similarly, the Midrash remarks, in the past, the Israelites were declared to be clean or unclean by the priests. But in the future, the Holy One Himself will cleanse the people; - as it says, "And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." 519
The motto of the spiritual leader in the ideal era of genuine justice and righteousness will be, in the words of Abraham Lincoln: "I must stand with anybody that stands right; stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong."519a It goes without saying that with spiritual leaders of such a high moral standard, there will be no preach- ing of the Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type, of which some of our preachers have been accused in the present era. In the terminology of the Midrash, the priest of the future will have to be in an absolute state of purity and cleanliness.520 In short, he will have to be a real minister of the universal God.521
Worship and prayer, to be sure, will constitute the most important part of the service in the spiritual center in the era to come.522 Thus, according to R.
Johanan, in the prophetic message of Zephaniah, " For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of

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the Lord, to serve Him with one consent
",523 the expression to serve Him" connotes prayer to God.524 The prayers in that era will be formulated, however, on a spiritual, and thus on a sound, basis. Since the general conditions of mankind, both material and spiritual, will be radically changed for the better, so that the wicked and suffering will have entirely disappeared from the earth, and all the righteous will prosper and share equally in the happiness of the world, the prayers will consist mainly of songs and of praises to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful acts of justice and righteousness in the world.525
In other words, religious worship, and religion in general, will be more jubilant than solemn. In the phraseology of the Midrash, "in this era we praise the Lord both for the good and for the bad. But in the era to come, we will praise Him only for the good. For, in that era, there will be no sufferin
g".526 Public worship at the center of the new Universal State will, furthermore, be of such a general nature that all people will be able to worship together. The following prophecies will then be realized: "And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear"; 527 "He will surely be gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear, He will answer thee"; 528 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him.”529

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