Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("RaMChaL"):

Translator's Preface

"If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill. Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not place Jerusalem at the head of my joy" (Psalms 137:5-6).

Time after time, day after day, for thousands of years, Jews have prayed for the speedy rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Our prayers are a bitter cry of exile: "This world is far from what it should be! Please make it better!"

Our prophets teach that we lost our Temple and our Land because of our sins. We must repent. We are praying and waiting for redemption. But the exile is so deep that most people have little or no vision of how the world should be.

The Torah provides a perfect blueprint for universal peace and happiness based on justice and the pursuit of truth. Yet even students of the Torah in many cases pay scant attention to laws and concepts that apply in a state of restoration as opposed to one of exile. The dramatic return of Jews to Israel in modern times has been heralded as the beginning of the fulfillment of an ancient dream. But the reality of life in an unsympathetic, often hostile world sometimes seems more like a nightmare.

How will we wake up from our exile of soul and body except by dreaming the dream of redemption? "When God turned the captivity of Zion we were like dreamers" (Psalms 126:1). To play our role in the redemption we first and foremost need a guiding vision. We must continually focus on the ideal state to which we aspire.

The crowning glory of the future world will be the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. "And it shall come to pass in the end of days that the mountain of the House of God will be established at the top of the mountains and will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will flow to it. Many peoples will go and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of God, to the House of the God of Jacob. And He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of God from Jerusalem'" (Isaiah 2:2-3).

A clear, detailed vision of the design and form of the Future Temple was granted to the prophet Ezekiel, who recorded it for all time in the Bible (Ezekiel chapters 40-43). Yet for most people the meaning and purpose of the Temple remain obscure.

The keys to unlocking the mystery of the Third Temple were provided by the outstanding 18th century kabbalistic genius, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (known as "Ramchal") in a little-known work entitled Mishkney Elyon, "Dwellings of the Supreme". In it Ramchal provides the kabbalistic explanation of the form of the Temple prophesied by Ezekiel, showing it to be the channel through which blessing and prosperity flow to all parts and levels of creation.

The current impasse over the future of the Holy City of Jerusalem coincides with an extraordinary thirst for spirituality and truth among Jews and gentiles all over the world. This is therefore an opportune moment to make available the first English edition of Ramchal's unique work, in which he explains the true significance of "the House of Prayer for all the Nations" in Jerusalem.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught that a sick person may be healed by focusing intently on his purpose and mission in life (Likutey Moharan I, 268). The same would apply to the nation and indeed the whole world. The more we all focus on dreaming the future dream, the more we will actually realize it.

In another saying, Rebbe Nachman tells us that "thought, when intensely concentrated, can exert great influence. Every faculty of the mind down to the innermost point must be focused without distraction. When many people do this, their thoughts can actually force something to happen" (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom p. 170).

May Secrets of the Future Temple be an aid to help many, many people deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Temple and dream the future dream, until our eyes witness God's return to Zion in mercy speedily in our times. Amen.

*  *  *

"I give thanks to you, God, for You were angry with me, but Your anger has turned away and You have comforted me" (Isaiah 12:1). I thank God for His endless mercies, for releasing me from my personal exile and bringing me to His Torah and its teachers, and for granting me a share in the Temple dream.

I wish to express my gratitude to all my teachers, especially to the "Rebbe of Rebbes", Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, whose influence has been the source of all that is of enduring value in my life. I particularly want to mention how my personal commitment to the Temple dream has been immeasurably deepened as a result of something that grew out of a visit to Rebbe Nachman's grave in Uman, Ukraine. In 5749 (1988) I had the privilege of being one of two hundred and fifty Breslover Chassidim who gathered in Uman for the first public celebration there of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, since the communist repression. Those who participated can testify to the many amazing things that occurred on that Rosh Hashanah despite the most trying physical conditions.

On the first morning of Rosh Hashanah it somehow came into my head that since Rebbe Nachman's essential mission was to rectify prayer, it would be proper at least this once to recite the sacrificial passages at the start of the prayer service instead of skipping them as I usually did. When it came to the afternoon service it also seemed proper to recite them. And so too the next morning. And the next.. And then it didn't seem proper to stop.

I had always found the sacrificial rituals and other aspects of the Temple obscure and of little practical relevance. But having taken on this commitment, I became increasingly familiar with the details of the various rituals. This made references to the Temple in my other studies more meaningful, which in turn invested these passages with deeper relevance. Reciting them daily in my prayers has given me a strong sense of personal involvement in the Temple idea.

This was greatly increased a few years later, shortly after the Gulf War, when I had the privilege of preparing The Sweetest Hour, an English translation and commentary on Tikun Chatzot, the midnight lament over the destruction of the Temple. My feeling of personal involvement has become ever stronger since 5754 (1994), when I started to follow a certain piece of general advice given by my other main Rebbe, the holy Lubavitcher Rebbe זצ"ל, and I embarked on daily study of the comprehensive code of Torah law, the Mishneh Torah of Rambam (Maimonides).

The Lubavitcher Rebbe urged all Jewish men, women and children to study Rambam's code and his Sefer Hamitzvot (Book of the Commandments), each according to his or her ability, in order to become familiar with the entire spectrum of Torah law. The Rebbe established three cycles for daily study of Rambam: (1) Three chapters of Mishneh Torah per day, completing the entire 14-volume work in just under one year; (2) One chapter of Mishneh Torah per day, completing the entire work in less than three years; (3) For those unable to study the more extensive code, daily study of the related commandments in Sefer Hamitzvot so as to complete that work each year.

It would be difficult to count the many blessings and other benefits that come from daily study of the Rambam as instituted by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In the present context it is enough to say that Rambam explains all the different laws relating to the Temple with the same crystal clarity with which he treats all other areas of the Torah. Adding study of Rambam to my daily routine has helped me develop a vivid picture of the way things will be when there is a Temple as well as nurturing in me a strong yearning for redemption. This was clearly part of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's intention in his constant stress on the importance of studying matters relating to the Holy Temple.

Let me also express my deep gratitude to another great teacher, Reb Shlomo Carlebach ז"ל, who helped so many find their souls through music and song. Today Reb Shlomo's melodies are being sung in more and more communities throughout the world. Those who were privileged to pray with Reb Shlomo and experience his power to arouse entire congregations to joyous devotion had a foretaste of the ecstasy we will know in the rebuilt Temple, when the Psalms of King David will again be heard in the place of the Temple of Solomon (Shlomo) in Jerusalem.

The present translation of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto's Mishkney Elyon on the Third Temple is for me a return to an old love. Having studied Ramchal's sweet classic, Mesilat Yesharim ("Path of the Just") shortly after I started on the Torah path in the mid 1970's, I was overjoyed a couple of years later when I discovered Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's translation of his Derech HaShem, "The Way of God". This superb work is the clearest comprehensive yet concise statement of the foundations of Jewish faith and belief I know. As my Hebrew improved I studied other writings of Ramchal, until one day I came upon the precious treasure of Mishkney Elyon. I have returned to it many times since, especially during Bein Hametzarim (17th Tamuz to 9th Av), the annual period of mourning over the lost Temple and yearning for the new. I am humbly grateful for the privilege of being able to deepen my connection with Ramchal through the preparation of this edition.

It is fitting that this first English translation of Ramchal's masterpiece on the Third Temple should be co-published by the Temple Institute, whose devoted team under the leadership of Rabbi Yisrael Ariel have done so much to spread knowledge and awareness of the Temple in Israel and throughout the world.  As translator of this work and director of the Azamra Institute, I am greatly honored by the participation of the Temple Institute in this project together with Azamra, whose mission is to promote healing, environmental balance and world peace.

The link between the Temple Institute and Azamra has been my precious friend, ידיד נפשי, Rabbi Chaim Richman, who has faithfully served the Temple Vision through his publications, educational and other work for the Temple Institute. I am thankful to Rabbi Menachem Makover, Director General of the Institute, for his encouragement and practical help in bringing this project to fruition.

I wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to my dear wife and children for your loving support and encouragement, as well as to the many other friends who I know are with me together on this great journey to the Third Temple.

Let me express my deep gratitude to the dear, true Tomchey Oraiso - Supporters of the Torah - whose wholehearted, generous fulfillment of the commandment of Tzedakah has made it possible to write, edit and publish this book. You prefer anonymity, but the light of your Mitzvah will shine forever in God's palace, and you will have your eternal share in building His House.

Director, Azamra Institute

Eve of Rosh Hashanah 5760





Translated by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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