In my heart, I will build a sanctuary,
To His honour and glory.
And in the sanctuary, I will place an altar,
As a seat for His radiance.
And as an eternal light, I will take,
the flame of the binding of Isaac.
And as a sacrifice, I will bring to Him,
My one and only soul. -- Rabbi Isaac Hutner, Bilvavi
This Sunday, we will once again observe the festival of Tish'a Be'av, the day when both of our temples were destroyed. This day is marked with tragedy, pain and sorrow, regret for what was and pining for what could have been. We long for the temple to be rebuilt. We long for a restoration of our relationship with G-d.
It is against this milieu that Rabbi Hutner wrote the above poem. While we lack the physical temple and the intimacy it brings in our relationship with G-d, we can still forge a relationship. There are parts of our lives that can be optimised to a loving give-and-take with the divine, even without a physical structure. Ironically, it is from an act of sacrifice, in the physical sense, that we learn this lesson. The story of Isaac's binding teaches the depth of spirituality that comes from faith and devotion alone, even without a physical temple. The story teaches us that we can forge a new connection and even new hope through our own internal attitudes and views.
Our sages tell us that angels came down when the Temple was destroyed and shielded the Western Wall with their wings. They did so because that wall was built by the poor, and even though they had nothing, they put all that they could into the construction, resulting in something more beautiful, more lasting, more precious, a testament to pure faith. When the Temple was destroyed, that monument had to be preserved and was. It stands with us to this day.
In our lives, we know that those most devoted to a cause are often those the best acquainted with it, the ablest to speak of it, and the ones who derive the most value from it. So too in our relationship with Hashem. The effort, work, and devotion we show are reflected directly on us as the dividends of faith and our own private, personal temple. May we merit to see that structure rebuilt, not only for us but for every Jew, and may it never be destroyed again.