Rabbi David P. Katz
This week’s Parsha weighs heavily in the most essential aspects to the Kohanim (Priests). We are introduced to the strict commands of who the Priests are allowed to marry, the nature of their sanctity, and gleanings of their intimate service in the Holy Temple. As we have mentioned in several places, a Noahide who learns Torah is viewed as a type of High Priest (which aligns with the tracing back to Shem ben Noah), and thus the Torah is quite clear of the acknowledgement of such. If the two great Nations are going to be Priests in their service to God, where would we find such an arena to cater to these lofty expectations that are placed upon both? We should look no further than to Shem himself, as the Talmud (Sukkah 52b) states: Shem is one of the Four Craftsmen of Redemption who take part in the construction of the Third [Messianic] Temple. Thus we see that Shem is directly involved with the Third Temple and is a clear image that the Noahides, and their Priestly status that they will have attained in the End of Days, will be present and affiliated with presenting Offerings along with the Jewish Priests who will be Ministering to Hashem in Ezekiel’s Temple. It should not come as a surprise that the Torah Portion that deals with Priestly Laws is the location of the very tradition of the Third Temple, and it was this very element that united Abraham and Shem on the Temple Mount, as Shem would be destined to play a part in the final construction, as having knowledge of Divine Craftsmanship that he inherited with his Righteous father Noah. In the Torah Portion Emor, the command to “waive the Omer” in the Temple (that would be standing) on the first day of Passover that falls after the Holiday (Seder night) Proper (Yom Tov – upon which creative labor is forbidden similar to Shabbat) [Chol HaMoed – Intermediary Days] is brought to light and this is the source of counting fifty days until Shavuous; the Omer is actually the beginning and the basis of what would be the holiday Shavuot, as Shavuot ironically is not Biblically the holiday commemorating the Giving of the Torah, which most are naturally led to believe, rather the completion of the “Waiving of the Omer” ceremony. The Talmud brings up a very interesting query on this point: “What if there is not a Temple in existence – what do we do then?” [Menachos 66b] The answer derived from this question is quite clear: there are two distinct Torah realities: One with a Temple standing and one without a Temple standing. When the Temple is standing, the commandment of the “Omer” is quite clear, and we follow the Torah literally. When the World is in exile from the Temple, the Rabbis have found a maneuver that is programmed within the text as a “what-to–do–in-this-case” scenario. The solution would be to have different times imposed of when to perform the ceremony as to not incur a sin if there would suddenly be a Temple standing, i.e. Exile would suddenly turn to Redemption. But can this really happen?! The scenario being brought [Talmud Sukkah, on this very issue] is a law that was instituted at the beginning of the current exile: Should the Third Temple be built suddenly, this enactment of the Rabbis must be implemented (as prescribed by the Torah) lest the Laws of the Temple and its sanctity be breeched. The Talmud then returns and asks, upon which the Bible Commentator Rashi explains, would we find such a scenario that Temple would suddenly appear on the grounds that even yesterday its construction was not underway? The answer which Rashi explains is: Yes! For the Third Temple is to come ready and built – fully-functional from the Hands of Heaven! It is Parashas Emor that we can turn to of being one of the few sacred locations that educate us of the Third Temple, and the fashion that Mankind will come to gravitate towards it. We must remember that the very basis of this teaching is in association with the “waiving of the Omer” ceremony in a “Temple”, so now for the flip side, what if we are located in a time space before the coming of the Third Temple while still in Exile? For this, the Talmud answers that the counting of the Omer (50 days counting leading to Shavuot) is merely a Rabbinic enactment (part of what the Rabbis instituted to guard against if a Temple would be built, so as not to trespass on the Holiness due to lack of awareness of having been in Exile for nearly 2000 years) that they have decreed that the counting is what is termed, “Zecher LeMikdash BeAlmah Hu” / “A Reminder of the Temple – In simple terms.” [Menachos 66a] What we glean from this enactment, is that the entire Redemptive process that leads up to the Giving of the Torah (which Noahide and Jew are both invested in) is nothing more than a yearning for the Third Temple זכר למקדש הוא / Zecher LeMikdash Hu – A Reminder of the Temple. Interestingly enough, the Gematria of that expression (Numerical value of the Hebrew) is 713: Repentance. We find that the merit to find the Temple on Earth will be from the result of Universal Repentance. It is the lack of the Third Temple that defines the current Exile, and it is this exile that has suppressed the nature of the Priests- Noahide and Jewish. As we read this Parsha in the times of the Omer, and we are fast approaching Shavuot, one can only ponder how great it would be to perform the Torah when its true structure will be built, or descend built from Heaven, as Rashi explains as per the Midrash that he quotes. How ironic is it, that it is this Parsha in specific that really educates us as to the nature of the Priests, and has within it the hidden source of the missing component: The Third Temple. The Third Temple as we have mentioned really took its roots in Abraham and Shem going back to their historic meeting at the Temple Mount. Shem ministered to God, as the High Priest, on the Temple Mount, in relation to the Heavenly Temple Above, as within Shem is access to the angelic Worlds, as explained by the Zohar, that the angel Michael was present within Shem when he met Abraham. This would be the site of the Future Third Temple that Shem himself would help usher its foundations to be cemented in this World. Abraham as well would be connected to the Third Temple, not only because of his famed meeting with Shem on the Temple Mount, but the Wells that Abraham dug followed by Isaac, would be the Spiritual Channels that the Future Temples would be able to flow into existence by, from a future domain into the present from the establishment in the past. [Ramban] The Laws of the Priests are said in the Midrash to contain revelation of the entire Torah, and we see this with the exchange between Shem and Abraham all the way until the Book of Vayikra, which lays claim to the most profound Torah concepts in the entire Torah. Vayikra is in the center of the Torah and can be compared to the heart of the Torah. The Torah itself is considered a Heart, as the first and last letters of the Torah combine to spell “לב” – Heart, thereby making Vayikra, “The Heart of Hearts.” Would it then be a surprise to see one of the Third Temple’s most profound teachings in the Parasha of Emor? The Third Temple is the domain that will ultimately define the nature of the Priest, as the Prophecies themselves concerning the Third Temple have long been thought to be highly mystical and difficult to understand. The outcome of the Third Temple is that we will learn and experience new realities of the Priesthood in that Time. One such reality will be of its builder, Shem ben Noah and myriads of Noahide-Priests who will be there at that time as well. The reminder of the Temple is not just for the Jews, but as a wakeup call for all the Priests, Noahides and Jews together, and a resonating voice that goes out to the World, to return to God. In the merit of Torah, that was given on Mount Sinai, at the culmination of a fifty days counting, the very event that made a Jew a Jew and a Noahide a Noahide to this very day – we must remember that we are both Priests to God, each in our own way, and this will only be fully realized upon the building and completion of the Third Temple, that fittingly enough will be ushered in by the first Priest the World ever saw, “Shem ben Noah.” As much as Shem sought after the Temple standing on the Temple Mount, the World’s Priests will only stand in full glory, when the Temple will reveal the Power of the Priest and The Priestly Kingdom, and when The Torah will fill the World with Knowledge of God. Only then will Mankind emanate Divinity onto the Earth, bringing into fruition the Messianic Dream that Shem envisioned when he exited the Ark and swore to Hashem to build the World on Kindness and Righteousness. Fittingly, these are the attributes the define the Priesthood, and will be the vessels of Wisdom that flow out to the World from the Third Temple, one that is slated to arrive suddenly from Heaven, as hinted at in Parashas Emor.