Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("RaMChaL"):

The Temple Building

The Holy of Holies

The first place that emanated from the Foundation Stone is a place of intense light and abundant blessing. For as she [i.e. Malchut] goes forth from before the King, there she stands at first in all her beauty and glory. Who can describe her power and brilliance? This power is given only to Israel. A great screen separates the Sanctuary from the Holy of Holies.

And now I must ask you to apply your intelligence in order to understand the secrets of this great place. When the two great lights whose identity you already know [Tiferet and Malchut] joined together, the resulting blissful tranquility greatly strengthened the two last letters of the holy name of YHVH blessed-be-He, Vav and Heh. A great hall then came into being: the Holy of Holies. This hall was hidden deep inside and was not visible outside. For a curtain [Parochet] stands before it covering the entrance and preventing it from being seen. I will reveal more great secrets about this curtain later on.

This hall is thus for the King alone and none other. Only once each year [on Yom Kippur] when the High Priest in the lower world enters the Holy of Holies with the incense, is permission to enter granted to the one who is permitted to enter. This is because of God's great love for His people, who are more precious to Him than the ministering angels. This is expressed in the verse: "At that time it will be said to Jacob and Israel, 'What has God done?'" (Numbers 23:23) [i.e. as the angels are "outside", they have to ask the Jewish People what God has done].

Out of the state of utmost bliss and tranquility in this hall there radiates a most holy light called YAHDVNHY [the shiluv of YHVH and ADNY]. Understand the secrets of this name: it starts and ends with a Yud, alluding to the secret: "I am the first and I am the last" (Isaiah 44:6). For all the lights are included in it in unity. For this reason these two Yud's shone in all their glory and splendor and built the length and breadth of this hall according to their measure, for they spread from the beginning to the end and from the end to the beginning. Thus there are twenty here and twenty there, and the dimensions of this hall are twenty by twenty. Together they make up a closed Mem [=40] which is the measure of the Mikveh [i.e. 40 se'ah's of water].

East wall of the Holy of Holies

As these lights spread out from their place of glory, the attribute of exact measure kept them within their boundaries. Through the great power of restraint [Gevurah] inherent in this quality of measure, a wall was built in front of them, keeping the lights within and preventing them from spreading further.

Understand the underlying principle of the walls of the various buildings: The power of each wall directly corresponds to the intensity of the light that it restricts. The nature of the wall corresponds to the light it hides and the intensity of the light corresponds to the wall. Neither possesses greater power or importance than the other. Since the entire Temple building was built from the lights of the two letters Vav and Heh, as mentioned above, the wall of the Holy of Holies also came into being through the power of these two letters. The wall is thus two cubits thick and holds within it all the lights that emerge from these two letters. Understand this well. It is this wall that separates the Holy of Holies from the main Sanctuary, to which I will now turn.

Gate of the Holy of Holies

As the great and powerful letter Vav asserted itself (for it was from the Vav that the light emerged), its force was so great that it broke through the wall and made there a gate as high as the measure of the Vav [=6]: six cubits. And since the Vav was joined with its mate [6 + 1 = 7], the width of the gate was seven cubits.

When I come to discuss the other Temple gates I will explain the meaning of these openings in the walls at greater length. Until this point everything was completely hidden and, as I have stated, the only opening was this gate made by the Vav. Were it not for the fact that this gate is open, the entire universe would be in a state of total deprivation and would therefore cease to exist. This is why this gate had to be opened first. As the flow of blessing and sustenance went out from this gate, it spread in all directions, forging a multitude of highways and pathways according to the needs of the various worlds.

The Sanctuary

As this great light emerged from this gate, it spread on all sides and made a second hall. The first hall, discussed above, is the Holy of Holies, while the second hall is the Sanctuary.

This is the place from which the souls of Israel receive their sustenance, and this is where the inner Incense Altar is located. This is the Altar where the sacrifice of the souls is offered when they bring their gift before the King. I will explain this matter further when I discuss the sacrificial system, and I will tell you what this gift is, who offers it, who brings it before the King and how those who bring it are rewarded when the King receives it with favor. But now let me complete my discussion of the Sanctuary.

In this Sanctuary shine great and powerful lights emerging from the two letters Vav and Heh that I mentioned and from the two Yud's. As the Vav and Heh became more strongly connected, they emitted sixty great and powerful lights. These shone forth in the Sanctuary and divided into three groups, one to the south, one to the north and one to the east. Thus there were twenty lights on each side: ten lights from the Vav and ten from the Heh. It was the two Yud's that caused the light emerging from the Vav and Heh to split into ten. When the Vav and the Heh joined together and caused these lights to emerge, each emitted ten lights. The twenty lights in the north (Gevurah) became inseparably joined with the twenty lights in the south (Chesed). Thus there were forty lights on each side along the length of the Sanctuary and twenty across its breadth. The dimensions of the Sanctuary were therefore forty by twenty cubits.

Understand that when the lights on the south and north sides emerged from the gate of the Holy of Holies, they traveled eastwards. This is because it was from the eastern end that they were to spread further. For that reason we find that these forty lights spread from west to east. Immediately afterwards, the lights of the eastern side came forth. As they went to their appointed place, they spread out on both sides in order to join together the lights of the south and north sides, since this is their constant task [i.e. the task of the lights of the "east", Tiferet, the center column, is to mediate between those of the "south", Chesed, and "north", Gevurah].

In this way the lights spread out until they reached their appointed place, and this is why there are forty lights along the length of the Sanctuary on its south and north sides but only twenty across its breadth on the eastern side.

When the "measuring rod" formed a wall for the lights, the southern and northern walls were both forty cubits long, for when the lights joined together they became bound with a strong bond and included one another. However the eastern wall was only twenty cubits in length corresponding to the number of its lights. When I come to explain the path along which blessing and sustenance [Shefa] flow into the world, you will understand the function of this wall and the part it plays in the running of the world and the distribution of sustenance and blessing.

The Priestly Blessing and the dimensions of the Sanctuary and Holy of Holies

"May God bless you and protect you; may God shine His countenance to you and be gracious to you; may God turn His countenance to you and grant you peace" (Numbers 6:24-25).

Altogether the lights of the Sanctuary are sixty, corresponding to the number of letters in the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). For it is from the Sanctuary that blessing goes forth to Israel through the Priests, who are entrusted with the service of the Temple and the Altar, as I will discuss further, with the help of God. Adding these sixty lights to the forty in the Holy of Holies gives a total of one hundred. These lights derive from the twenty lights of the two Yud's.

This secret is alluded to in the verse: "Better is a handful of gratification [Nachat] than two fistfuls of labor in pursuit of the wind" (Ecclesiastes 4:6). This refers to the place of tranquility and spiritual delight that we have been discussing. The verse speaks of it as a "handful" [Melo Kaf], for the letter Kaf has the numerical value of 20, corresponding to the two Yud's which built the Holy of Holies, the innermost part of the Temple. When they spread out with great force and power, they caused the dimensions of the inner hall [the Holy of Holies] to be forty [i.e. twenty long by twenty wide] and those of the Sanctuary to be sixty [i.e. forty long and twenty wide]. Adding forty and sixty gives a total of one hundred, corresponding to the numerical value of the "filling" of Kaf when spelled out in full, Kaf Feh (Kaf = 20, Feh = 80; 20 + 80 = 100).

Note that the Priestly Blessing is made up of three blessings corresponding to the three groups of lights that spread to the north, south and east. Three Yud's emerged from the Vav and three from the Heh. This is why each of the three blessings begins with a Yud [יברכך יאר ישא]. These are the three Yud's of the Vav, which are the source of blessing, as I have indicated. When they join with the Yud's of the Heh it gives a total of one hundred in each direction. This is why each of the three blessings ends with the letter Kaf [= 20, corresponding in each case to the union of a Yud from the Vav with one from the Heh]. The third Kaf is that of the word אליך in the third blessing [ישא], for that is the end of the main blessing. From there the blessing spreads out further, concluding with the final Mem of the word "peace" [שלום], alluding to the forty lights of the Holy of Holies.

Walls and gates

Now I will explain to you the meaning of the gates in the walls. Examine carefully what I say, for these are important matters involving awesome secrets. Know that all things have a root in the highest of levels. From there they extend, descending from level to level until they reach the lower world.

The root of all things is found in the Supreme Wisdom (Mocha Stimo'e, literally the "Hidden Brain") that stands at the peak of all levels and gives power to all the hosts of heaven and the heavens of the heavens. Not even a hint of what lies beyond that level is known except in the depths of the hearts of the wise, who know that everything comes forth from a single unified One Who has no name and cannot be described. "He made us and we are His" (Psalm 100:3): the Infinite One blessed-be-He.

This Wisdom possesses mighty "gates" from which its radiance and glory shine to all the creatures in the lower worlds that crave to delight in its great pleasantness. Two of these gates are especially great, and they are as important as all the others combined. These are two great, powerful lights that cause everything that happens in the world to come about through wisdom. These two lights are metaphorically called two "constellations" [Mazalot], the upper and the lower [corresponding to the eighth and thirteenth of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy revealed in Exodus 34:7]. From them flow sweet, pleasant waters to satisfy all life with favor. [Mazal has the connotation of "flowing".] They govern everything in the world from start to finish, and nothing comes about without their influence. Seeing this great secret, the sages said: "Everything depends on Mazal, even the Torah scroll in the Temple" (Zohar 3, 134a).

When the Supreme Wisdom prepared to spread downwards through the "upper opening" [the Mazal of "preserving kindness" (Exodus 34:7), eighth of the Thirteen Attributes], three great lights of limitless power and radiance shone forth. The names of these lights are: YHVH, YHVH, YHVH. When these lights emerged from Wisdom, they went forth and came to this entrance, and all the gates of mercy opened before them. When these gates are open, none of the lower gates can remain closed, for everything that happens in the lower worlds depends on the upper worlds, since everything from top to bottom is linked in a single chain.

When these three lights came forth from their place of glory and reached the lower opening [the Mazal of "and cleanses" (ibid.), the thirteenth attribute], they encountered three other names that are their worthy match: EHYH, EHYH, EHYH. Each of the names in each set joined tightly with its partner in the other, and they descended together to the lower realms. It is the three names in the first set that dominate, for they are "male", while the three names in the second set are "female". These lights descended until they reached the deepest point of the universe. At this end stood another set of three choice names: ADNY, ADNY, ADNY. When the descending lights reached them, all were filled with blessing and favor, causing the names of ADNY to be "filled" with their letters, twelve to each one [אלף דלת נון יוד], thereby opening the gates.

Let me explain this matter to you. Each "wall" is called ADNY. For this reason it is written: "Behold ADNY standing on a wall." (Amos 7:7), and Solomon said "I am a wall" (Song of Songs 8:10). This matter will be clear to anyone who has followed the paths of wisdom to the very roots. This quality [of Malchut] is a "glass that does not shine", i.e. a barrier that stands before the lights and prevents them from shining through.

This wall has gates, for without gates how would blessing and sustenance go forth to the lower realms? These gates came into being when at a certain point along the wall the light became so powerful that the place in question became filled with great mercy and turned into an opening or gateway for the light to pass through. Understand this. For when the name of ADNY is "filled" as mentioned above, its numerical value is 671 corresponding to that of Tar'a [[תרעא, which is Aramaic for "gate".

For this reason, when the two sets of three names descending from the aforementioned "entrances" [the gates of Mocha Stimo'e, the two Mazalot] reached the three names of ADNY at the bottom "end" of the universe, the latter became "filled" with abundant light and each of them became a "gate". For this reason the Temple courtyards have three gates, as you will see. However, here [in the Sanctuary] there is only one gate with two small side entrances to the right and left.

The Sanctuary gate and its two side entrances

Let me now explain this matter to you. These three names [of YHVH shining from Mocha Stimo'e] correspond to the three columns of Kindness [Chesed, to the right], Judgment [Gevurah, to the left] and Mercy [Tiferet, in the center]. In this place of connection and blissful tranquility, it is the center column that holds sway. Because of its great glory and splendor, the two side columns are subordinate. For this reason there is only one gate here with two small gates on each side corresponding to the two side columns.

As the lights spreading out within the Sanctuary prepared to go forth, despite their great number, they all became included in ten great lights, for the root is also divided into ten. They stood five on one side and five on the other, making two "shoulders" for the opening: five to the right on the side of Kindness and five to the left on the side of Judgment. The width of the opening was ten cubits in order for the lights that I mentioned to pass through the gate.

Vestibule of the Sanctuary

When these supreme lights joined together to open the gate, they displayed their power and glory right there in the place of the gate. As they spread out at the gate they caused a fine, broad, glorious structure to appear called the "Vestibule [Ulam] of the Gate". Why is it called the Ulam? Because these three lights are joined together in such unity that all three appear in each one of them, and their number (26 x 3 = 78) is the same as the value of the letters of Ulam (Aleph 1 + Vav 6 + Lamed 30 + Mem 40 + 1 for the word as a whole = 78).

When the center column asserted itself, it displayed its power and beauty, causing the letters of the associated names of YHVH and EHYH to become "filled": יוד הי ויו הי, אלף הי יוד הי. Altogether these two names contain twenty letters: twenty wondrous lights acting with great power. When the names joined together, these lights became perfectly interconnected: אילופ"ד ההי"י יוויד"ו ההי"י. Thus all the lights were included between the two standing at each end, namely Aleph and Yud. These lights determined the dimensions of this Vestibule: twenty cubits in length [i.e. north-south, corresponding to the twenty letters in the two expansions] and eleven in width [east-west, corresponding to the sum of the Aleph = 1 and the Yud = 10; 1 + 10 = 11].

House of the Knives

Similarly [the light from] the two side entrances spread out to the sides of the Vestibule, bringing into being two glorious places, one on either side. These are known as "The House of the Knives" [where the sacrificial slaughtering-knives are kept].

Understand that when the names of YHVH and EHYH went forth from the side gates, they were outshone by the overwhelming light from the center gate and could not display their power. For that reason their constituent letters were not "filled" but stood alone in their simple form. Moreover, the names here did not interconnect in the same way as the names coming from the center gate.

This is reflected in the dimensions of these two structures on the two sides of the Vestibule. The two names on each side consist of eight letters, eight lights, and these are accompanied by two additional lights that came forth from the two "constellations" to strengthen them. Accordingly these two structures are ten cubits wide. At the two ends stand two lights: a Yud at one end and a Heh at the other [these being the first Yud of YHVH and the final Heh of EHYH]. This determines the length of the two structures, which is fifteen cubits [Yud 10 + Heh 5 = 15]. When I come to speak about the sacrificial service I will explain why this place is called the House of the Knives.

Thickness of the walls of the Sanctuary and Vestibule

If you consider all these different lights carefully you will see that they all derive from the Vav and Heh that joined together at the beginning. For this reason, when the measuring line determined the proper dimensions of the walls, it built the Sanctuary wall on the foundation of the Vav and the Vestibule wall on the foundation of the Heh, the latter being the exterior wall. These walls are therefore respectively six and five cubits thick, and extend according to the lights enclosed within them.

The Vestibule gateway

The intensity of the light in the Vestibule caused a gate to appear in the wall. Let me explain the form of this gate. When the twenty lights spreading from side to side across the Vestibule sought to emerge, they took a different order. The lights of EHYH became included in the lights of YHVH, making ten within ten. By the side of these ten lights appeared four very great lights which were in fact the source of those ten, making a total of fourteen lights: יוד הי ויו הי and the four letters of the Tetragrammaton. These fourteen lights broke through the wall and made a gate of corresponding width: fourteen cubits.

The two pillars

Outside this gate appeared two glorious lights in the form of two great pillars standing by the entrance, one to the right and one to the left. Understand the meaning of these pillars. They are branches of the two supreme "constellations" [Mazalot] mentioned earlier. These are the source of all light and all blessing, and have a decisive influence on everything that happens in the upper and lower worlds. From them emerged the three great names of YHVH, YHVH, YHVH that opened the Sanctuary gate and created the Vestibule before it, showing that the branch is never separated from the root. No matter how far the light descends, it always remains connected with its source. That is why these two lights appeared here in the form of these two pillars, a lower manifestation of the two supreme lights that are the source of the heavens and ultimately control all things.

These columns are very tall, as is known to those who understand the Tree and its branches and their source. The truth is that the distance between the place where these lights emerge and the place where they cease to shine is sixty cubits, after which their light is given over to the two great lights of Tiferet and Malchut, which determine everything that happens in the world. It is from here that everything destined to come down from the two "constellations" descends, until it reaches the bottom and makes the appropriate gates.

So far I have discussed the way the Temple was built, and I have explained the structure of the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies and the Vestibule, and the measurements of their walls and gates. Let me now tell you something about what is inside them, and you will learn many precious secrets.

The Curtain before the entrance to the Holy of Holies

Before the entrance to the Holy of Holies hangs a great curtain of exactly the same width and height as the entrance, neither more nor less. Let me explain the purpose of this curtain. It was formed by several lights which joined together here to prevent anything that should not pass through from so doing.

The two great "constellations" [Mazalot] bring about all things at all times, and they themselves include all thirteen of the great springs known to the wise, namely the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. No man could ever stand in the face of their great radiance and holiness. All are in fear and trembling lest they be consumed in the great fire. After them, seven great and wondrous names hold sway: these are the four main expansions of YHVH [72 + 63 + 45 + 52 = 232] belonging to the upper Mazal, and the three main expansions of EHYH [161 + 151 + 143 = 455] belonging to the lower Mazal. It is from all these lights joined together that this curtain [Parochet] is formed. The numerical value of the letters of PaRoCheT [[פרכת is 700 corresponding to these seven names and the thirteen attributes of mercy. [Peh 80 + Resh 200 + Chaf 20 + Tav 400 = 700 = 232 + 455 + 13.]

The Ark of Testimony

Behind the curtain, inside the Holy of Holies, stands the Ark of Testimony, testifying to the inseparable hidden unity of God. The Ark stands on the Foundation Stone for reasons that will be clear on the basis of what I explained in the Introduction.

The Candelabrum, Table and Incense Altar

In the Sanctuary are three great, precious lights, one to the right, one to the left, and one in the center serving both sides at once. Let me explain these three lights. The light on the right side spread out in all its strength and glory, appearing as a candelabrum [Menorah] made entirely of gold with seven great lamps extending on both sides. This light comes from the Upper Shechinah. For it is here [in the Sanctuary] that she reveals her power since this is the place where all the souls are rectified, as you will see later when we discuss the sacrifices. Why are her lights seven in number? Because she is on the seventh level counting from above.

Likewise, to the left there is a single light that extends along and across in the form of a table set with all manner of dainties. The Show Bread is on this table at all times. The table is two cubits long and three cubits high, making a total of five. This is the light coming forth from the Lower Shechinah. Since she is fifth counting down from the levels above her, her measure is five. Three of these five levels joined together, while the fourth, Yesod, does not separate from Malchut. This is why the dimensions of the table are three by two.

Between these two lights [i.e. the Candelabrum and the Table] stands a third serving both of them. This is called the Inner [or Incense] Altar, where the sacrifice of the souls of Israel is offered, as I will explain later.

Wood and gold lining on the walls

When the Sanctuary stood with all its walls in place according to their correct measurements, a lining appeared inside covering the walls from top to bottom. Over it appeared a second lining. Let me explain the secret of these linings. The walls themselves are built of stones, which come from Malchut. Over them hovers the glory of the King [Melech] which completely covers them so that they are invisible. This lining is made of wood because it comes from the Tree of Life. Covering it is a second lining, which is much more splendid than both the stones and the wood. This second lining derives from Binah, which hides her children under her wings. It is therefore of pure gold.

Let me now reveal a great secret: When all levels reach a state of rectification and the holy union of the lights gives rise to the most blissful tranquility, nothing is seen of Tiferet or Malchut because Binah constantly hovers over them, as the verse says: "Like the eagle rouses his nest" (Deuteronomy 32:11). The great glory hovering over them hides them from the eyes of all living. This is only fitting, for it says: "Go humbly before the Lord your God" (Micah 6:8). This is why the Torah forbids placing wood in the lower Temple unless it is covered with gold. This will help you to understand the ways of God and see how deep and far removed they are from human wisdom.

Cherubs and palms on the walls

Inside the Sanctuary, the most beautiful lights appear on all the walls. They all receive from one another as they spread out from amidst the radiance caused by the perfect union all around. These lights shine in the form of cherubs and palm trees. Understand the greatness and importance of these lights. There are male and female palms. Of this it is said: "The Tzaddik will flourish like the palm" (Psalms 92:13), referring to Tzaddik (Yesod) and his mate (Malchut).

The cherubs have two faces: that of a man on one side and that of a lion on the other. Know that the building of this Temple is accomplished through the power of the right side (Chesed) in mercy (Tiferet). This is the secret of the verse, "The mountain of the House of YHVH will be firmly established on the top of the mountains" (Isaiah 2:2). The "top of the mountains" alludes to the right side, that of the lion, of which it is said, "And the face of the lion to the right" (Ezekiel 1:10). This joins with Adam, man, corresponding to Tiferet, the center column. It is from the light of these two that the holy union symbolized by the palm tree derives. For this reason the faces of the cherubs are turned towards the palm tree, for the lion is on one side, the face of the man on the other, and the palm tree stands between the two.

The narrow windows

These lights illuminated the entire Sanctuary, filling it with blessing and favor. The palms and cherubs increased the strength of the welling stream of blessing concentrated in the Sanctuary. Even as it goes forth from the presence of its masters, it does not weaken. As the intense light within the Sanctuary burst outwards, not only did it open the gate but also breached numerous apertures in the walls.

Even though these apertures are very narrow on the inside, the light shining out from them spreads forth on all sides. For this reason these apertures in the walls are called "closed windows", because they are narrow on the inside and wide outside. Such apertures are found in all the walls of the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies and the Vestibules. Numerous lights shine forth from these windows at all times in addition to the flow of blessing that goes forth from the gates. For the flow of blessing goes out only at its appointed times, whereas the lights from these windows never cease to shine, giving strength and power to the lower worlds.

Moreover even those who ascend to receive from the gates first go up to the windows. They look inside through the window. Seeing the intensity of light and joy inside, they are filled with rejoicing and yearn to delight in that hidden goodness. Their yearning and desire bring them running to the gate exulting and singing praises. There they stand until their portion is given to them, each according to his share. By first gazing in through the windows their souls gain sufficient strength to withstand the intensity of the flow of blessing that comes forth from the gate.

"Pillar facing pillar" (Ezekiel 42:3)

When the walls were built, three pillars appeared within their structure. They were visible on both sides since they were embedded in the thickness of the wall. They stand "pillar facing pillar" (Ezekiel 42:3) corresponding to the three columns [of the Sefirot: kindness, judgment and mercy] in order to strengthen the mighty building and keep it stable.

Doors of the Sanctuary

At the gate of the Sanctuary there are square door-posts with two doors to the right and two to the left. The secret of these doors is rooted in the name ADNY, two of whose four letters - the Aleph and the Yud - stand to the right, and two - the Dalet and the Nun - to the left. When these doors are closed no-one leaves or enters. Only when they are opened is it possible to enter or leave. This is the "Holy Way" by which all visitors to the House enter and leave.

There is another secret here for the wise. At this gate stand twenty-two lights to the right and twenty-two to the left. These are the twenty-two letters of the Torah. Joined together in separate groups to the right and the left, they appear in the form of two facing doors. On each side stand two groups of six letters joined together by a third group of ten behind them. These three groups of letters on each side take the form of a "hinge" and a "door": one on the right and one on the left. [The "door", Delet = Dalet (ד), is made up of two Vav's (ו = 6) attached from "behind" by a "hinge", the Yud (י = 10). 6 + 6 + 10 = 22.] When the two doors are closed and joined together, they form a closed Mem [ם, made up of two attached Dalet's], and the gate remains closed until such time as it opens again.

Although I said that there are twenty-two lights to the right and twenty-two to the left, the truth is that [on each side] there are twenty-two interior lights and twenty-two exterior lights. For this is the place of the Upper Shechinah and Lower Shechinah, both of which possess these lights. For this reason the lights are doubled and there are four doors.

Height of the gates

Understand that, with the exception of the Inner Gate, all the gates are very tall, for they are designed to meet the needs of those receiving from them. The gates are fifty cubits high, the entire array of souls and angels being divided into five. However, the first gate [of the Holy of Holies] is smaller than the others. As you surely understand, the light that reaches the lower worlds has only a tiny fraction of the intensity of the light that shines in His Supreme Dwelling. This small share is proportionate to the scale of the lower worlds and is quite sufficient for them.

Height of the First, Second and Third Temples

The height of the Third Temple is one hundred cubits, although this is not stated explicitly by Ezekiel, who simply said, "I saw the height of the House" (Ezekiel 41:8). The height is uniform along the entire length and breadth of the Temple, and he did not need to specify it. Let me explain a great secret, for this is not the same as the height of the First Temple either in the upper world or on earth. The First Temple was a hundred and twenty cubits high (II Chronicles 3:4). This was because it had an upper floor that brought it to this height. However the Temple seen by Ezekiel was only a hundred cubits high and did not have an upper floor.

Understand that each divine attribute [Sefirah] measures one hundred [since each individual Sefirah contains all ten Sefirot, and each component Sefirah itself consists of all ten: 1 x 10 x 10 = 100]. Since the First Temple was built through Chochmah, its height was a hundred cubits by virtue of Chochmah, with an additional twenty cubits shining upon it from Keter in order to bring Chochmah to perfection. This is why the First Temple was built with an upper floor, indicating how the Keter, signified by the letter Kaf (= 20) hovers above Chochmah and radiates within it. This is why there were only twenty cubits from Keter and a hundred from Chochmah.

However the Third Temple [being built by Keter itself] has no upper floor, for Keter is the "head" and is raised above all else. The height of the Third Temple is a hundred cubits, these being the hundred of Keter. These hundred cubits are thus far greater than the entire hundred and twenty cubits of the height of the First Temple. Accordingly it is written: "Great will be the glory of this last House" (Hagai 2:9). The Second Temple was also built to a height of a hundred cubits as in the Heavenly Temple seen by Ezekiel in his prophetic vision. Had those who built it not known this they would not have made any changes on their own initiative without having a firm basis, but would have retained the measurements of the First Temple.

The Temple roof

From the wall of the Sanctuary to the wall of the Vestibule great lights appeared in the form of beams holding and strengthening the walls and keeping them in position. Each beam is a Vav emanating from the supreme Vav of the holy Name, blessed-be-He. There is a fundamental principle that you should understand: Every "house" derives from Malchut while every roof derives from Tiferet. It is from the beams, therefore, that the flow of blessing is drawn down to the House, just as Tiferet shines the light down to Malchut. In front of the Vestibule are steps, which I will explain later, with the help of God, when I come to discuss the Temple service.

Dimensions of the House

The prophet mentions three figures when speaking of the dimensions of the Temple: one hundred, ninety and seventy (Ezekiel 41:12-13). Each of these figures is connected with the lights [Sefirot]. Altogether the Sefirot amount to a hundred [i.e. there are ten Sefirot each of which contains all ten Sefirot: 10 x 10 = 100]. However one of these lights [Keter] is concealed, leaving ninety. But the lower lights through which the world is actually conducted are seventy [i.e. the seven Sefirot from Chesed to Malchut: 7 x 10 = 70].

This is the secret of the verse: "Man walks about as a shadow [TzeLeM]" (Psalms 39:7). From one point of view there are ninety lights, corresponding to the Tzadi [=90]; from another there are seventy, corresponding to the Lamed [=30] and Mem [=40; 30 + 40 = 70], while from the point of view of the Supreme Keter there are one hundred.





Translated by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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