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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Many Jews subscribe to the belief and harbor the hope that the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) will one day be rebuilt. One might wonder, from a practical standpoint, exactly how design and construction would be accomplished. Would the new temple be an exact replica of the last one or would it feature some improvements and advantages of modernity? Would it be environmental-friendly? Would it be publicly or privately funded? Would it be considered new construction or simply a renovation, especially for tax purposes? Or, would none of these norms apply?

In the ideal scenario, the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash will take place without any input from the Jewish People. Just think about the epic debates and never-ending disputes that sometimes occur when merely a new synagogue is built. Arguments often ensue over any conceivable topic such as carpet colors, stained glass window designs, bimah placement, natural light angles, congregational sight lines and acoustic adjustments. And those are some of the more sane topics for debate. Less sane topics might include battles over (1) picayune naming rights like which family’s name should appear on the plaque in the basement boiler-room, (2) crazy kiddish consumption issues like whether the herring should be pre-stabbed with toothpicks or served toothpick-free, (3) classic coatroom disputes like whether it is permissible to hang your coat over someone’s coat when all of the hangers are taken, (4) prickly parking lot issues like whether the Chazzan’s second cousin should be allowed to use the Chazzan’s reserved parking space and (5) annoying annual dinner issues like figuring out how to arrange the seating so that no congregant is sitting at a table with anyone they dislike. (Good luck with that one!)

If the Jewish People do become involved in the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, who exactly will be enlisted? Will it be everyday schlubs and schlemiels who have absolutely no business operating heavy machinery or trained professionals who are the masters of their craft? If the latter, will new construction companies be formed for this very special purpose, with names like: (1) Kohen Construction, LLC, (2) Bubbies’s Bricks, LLC, (3) Israel’s Insulation, Inc., (4) Judah’s Jackhammer Company, (5) Boychick’s Bulldozers, (6) Esther’s Excavators, (7) Bubameiseh Backhoes, (8) Sarah & Sons Cement, (9) Dovid’s Dump Truck Depot and (10) Feivel’s Forklifts.

As an aside, if there is any piece of construction equipment that is perfect for a Jew, it is the forklift, which essentially involves lifting a fork. One could argue that every self-respecting Jew, and even every non-self-respecting Jew, in this world would welcome the opportunity to lift a fork... or a knife or spoon for that matter... as long as a meal or snack is impending.

Obviously, the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash will be no ordinary construction project. For example, the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash certainly will NOT include: (1) a sensitive fire alarm and suppression system (because how will that work in a building designed for burnt-offerings?); (2) amenities like a gym, spa or pool (but in this context, would a mikvah qualify as an amenity?); (3) a penthouse or presidential suite for the Kohen HaGadol (but it might not be crazy to add an in-room safe for the Chief Kohen’s breastplate); (4) a restaurant and bar (but a bar mitzvah is a different story) and (5) a door-person (and every time someone enters, the door-person would sing “LeDoor va Door.”)

There are many fundamental questions to ask regarding the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash. Who will create the budget and schedule? (Obviously, everyone involved in construction will get a day off on every Jewish holiday, perhaps even on Tu B’Shvat.) Will the Beit Hamikdash instantly and automatically be entitled to landmark protection? (Duh!) Whose name will appear on the deed? (Talk about your good deeds!)

Final thought: Generally speaking, Jews do not lack opinions and so a project of such magnitude and significance likely would engender comments and opinions from many different vantage points. Let’s imagine a theoretical discussion regarding a temple rebuild:

Jew #1: I think we should install wall-to-wall carpet.

Jew #2: That probably is not a good idea because sacrifices can get kind of messy, especially with all of the blood.

Jew #1: Good point. I’ll order red carpet. By the way, we also need food vendors to feed the masses.

Jew #2: Agreed. I suggest items that are easy to prepare and eat?

Jew #1: What do you have in mind?

Jew #2: Chopped liver snow-cones and herring smoothies.

Jew #1: That sounds disgusting and yet intriguing.

Jew #2: Wait until you hear my Mexican-themed Temple Tamales idea.

Jew #1: Oy vey!

By Jon Kranz