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The inauguration of the Third Temple

Will the inauguration of the Third Holy Temple be celebrated in the same way as the inauguration of the first two Temples?

The inauguration of the Tabernacle in the desert began on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. For the next twelve days, the leader of each tribe brought offerings to G-d to sanctify the newly erected Tabernacle. We commemorate this event by reviewing this Torah portion each of the first twelve days of Nissan. The identical Torah reading is also read on Chanukah, when the second Temple was inaugurated.

The last nine chapters of the book of Ezekiel are devoted to a vision that he saw of the Third Holy Temple. An angel took him for a heavenly "tour" of the Temple Mount and described to him in detail the architecture of the Third Temple. During the tour, the angel said to Ezekiel: "So says G-d your Lord: These are the laws of the altar, on the day that it is built." He then gave a long list of sacrifices that will be brought when the Temple is inaugurated.

This is the only information we have about the inauguration of the Third Temple. Many of the details are different from the sacrifices brought for the inauguration of the Tabernacle and first two Temples.

Maimonides quotes the prophecy of Ezekiel in his compilation of practical Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah. Unlike other prophecies, which he often explains as metaphors or parables, Maimonides interprets the prophecy of Ezekiel literally. However, the language of Ezekiel is not always precise, so it is unclear how it is to be interpreted in a practical sense. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the sacrifices to be offered at the inauguration of the Third Temple are not written explicitly in Ezekiel because different sacrifices may be offered depending on the spiritual standing of the generation.

(Ezekiel 43:18 and on. Mishneh Torah, Laws of Offerings, Ch. 2. Likutei Sichos, Vol. 22, p. 252, see footnotes.)


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