""In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of HaShem laid, in the month of Ziv [Iyar]. And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul [Marcheshvan], which is the eighth month, the house was finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it, and he built it seven years." (Kings 6:37-38)
THE NEW MONTH OF MARCHESHVAN AND THE DEDICATION OF THE THIRD TEMPLE
The month of Mar Cheshvan is the only month of the Hebrew calendar that does not feature even a minor observance - not even a fast day. Especially given the fact that this month comes right after the action-packed month of Tishrei - which is host to the High Holidays and Sukkot, with its high-profile, action-oriented mitzvot - this month of Mar Cheshvan seems particularly drab and colorless?a fitting introduction to winter. After the rush of adrenalin we experience in Tishrei that manifests itself in every aspect of our prayers and spiritual pursuits, is this month not something of an anticlimax? Indeed, its very name seems to foretell that we haven't got much to look forward to or anticipate here: Mar Cheshvan, as it is formally known, is just that: the prefix Mar denotes a certain cold formality, "Mr." Cheshvan, or perhaps "bitter" Cheshvan... not the feeling of an old familiar friend, like its predecessor. Following on the heels of the exhilarating month of Tishrei, we are perhaps just a bit disappointed.
Indeed, as the month of Cheshvan enters accompanied by these feelings, the idea of disappointment seems to transcend our personal idiom and take on a universal theme, running parallel to our own lives, through the Torah portions that begin the month. In the Torah portion of Bereshith, we are told that G-d was pleased with the world. Upon completing His creation, He looked and beheld that it was very good. Yet by the time we reach the end of the portion - and a mere 10 generations have passed from Adam to Noach - G-d was so disappointed with His creation that He regretted having made man, and decided to destroy all life with the exception of the righteous Noach and those with him upon the ark. And don't forget that it was on the 17th day of this very month of Mar Cheshvan that the flood began...
But a fascinating mystical tradition relates that although on the surface, Cheshvan doesn't have much to offer, in truth, the best is yet to come:
"The Tabernacle of the desert was completed by Moshe in the month of Kislev, however the Holy One, blessed be He commanded him to wait until the following Nisan to inaugurate it. The month of Kislev was embarrassed, and so G-d rewarded her with the rededication of the Second Temple, during the era of Chanukah.
The First Temple built by King Solomon was completed during the month of Mar Cheshvan (the month known as 'bul;' see I Kings 6:38) however through Divine Inspiration, King Solomon knew that he was not to dedicate it until the following Tishrei. So, the month of Mar Cheshvan was embarrassed?and G-d promised to repay it in the future, with the dedication ceremony of the Third Temple." (Midrash Yalkut Melachim 184 as cited in Bnei Yissaschar).
How should a tradition such as this be understood? Is it merely an anecdote, a whimsical tale of a "month being embarrassed," devoid of any significance in our real world?
What would it take to make a dream like this - the dream of the dedication of the Third Temple - come true?
If there is one thing we know about the Jewish people, it's that our dreams always come true. But it is the people of Israel themselves who make these dreams happen! A constant recurring theme in the Torah is that everything is up to us. This is exactly why the Sea of Reeds did not split until one man - Nachson, the son of Aminadav, prince of the tribe of Judah - walked out into the water until the sea came up to his nostils, and he could walk no further. G-d made a miracle, to be sure?but only after one man showed Israel that nothing will happen until we do all that we can possibly do ourselves?and not a drop less.
There is a spiritual revolution taking place in Israel. We see it and feel it all around us, and during this past month of Tishrei, it became a palpable, living reality, as thousands of Jews from all over the country converged at the gate of the Temple Mount, to ascend the Mountain of Hashem, location of the Holy Temple, in purity. Just a few years ago, only a handful of Jews visited the Temple Mount in strict accordance with halacha. But this year, a record number of Jews came to visit the Temple Mount in order to experience, to some extent, the joy of aliya leregel, and to have the opportunity to "be seen there by G-d" (Ex. 23:17) and to pray at the holiest place on earth. The intermediary days of the festival saw hundreds of Jewish visitors arriving each day at the gates of the Temple Mount. These numbers represent a significant increase in Jewish visitors. Included were entire families, delegates from communities all over the country, Roshei Yeshiva with their students... a veritable representation of the entire nation of Israel.
All told, this past Sukkot bore witness to a great outpouring of Jewish love, dedication and devotion to the Temple Mount, as seen by the huge crowds, hailing from all over the land as well as from abroad, who withstood waiting on lines in the blistering sun for hours, and indignation at the hands of the police, all for the chance of even a brief opportunity to ascend the Mountain. Those who succeeded felt the life-changing effect of being in this unique place, "seen by G-d" in the holiest place on earth, and of being part of the unfolding destiny of the nation of Israel and the redemption of all humanity - especially on the festival of Sukkot, whose observance in the Holy Temple effects a rectification for all mankind. Those who ascended could not wait to return and vowed to come back again and again... and those who waited long hours only to be turned away, were only strengthened in their resolve to return to visit the Temple Mount as often as possible.
This is how the Third Temple will be rebuilt. When we see how the nation of Israel, with its collective, intuitive wisdom and pure faith, is changing the facts on the ground, we can understand how, after such a Tishrei, Mar Cheshvan is anything but drab... it is laden with promise and potential, because the best is yet to come. We can understand how the Jewish people will see to it that Hashem will keep His promise to the month of Cheshvan, with the dedication of the new Holy Temple, which will bring about the resting of the Divine Presence and the ultimate healing of all mankind. This is the plain and simple meaning of this enigmatic Midrashic teaching: If we will it, it will be.