A discussion about the Temple Mount’s even she’seeah
Jerusalem, Temple Mount
Dear Rabbi Fried,
I was fascinated by what you said about a stone on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (where the altar was), that began God’s creation of the universe. Could you expand on that thought? Thanks,
The stone I was referring to is a profound Jewish concept and is referred to in Hebrew as the even she’seeah, or “foundation stone.” One of the leading Kabbalists was R’ Moshe ben Nachman, better known as Ramban (Nachmanides, 13th-century Spain and Israel). In the preface to his classical commentary to the Torah, he writes at great length about this stone. This stone, at the Temple Mount, is said to hold within it all the world’s powers. Ramban said, for example, that various fruits and vegetables thrive in specific parts of the world. Fruits that are indigenous to central Africa won’t necessarily grow well in Japan, and vice versa. An “artery” extends from this stone to Africa, Australia and every part of the world, giving that part of the world a power to sustain its particular flora.
King Solomon, whom the Torah refers to as the wisest of all men, perceived and recognized those arteries. He was then able to plant the trees and plants which were specific to different parts of the world in Jerusalem, right above their specific artery of power. These plants thrived right in the middle of Jerusalem, as if they were grown in their natural habitat.
It was at the very same spot that the earth was taken by God to create the first man. Rashi (Genesis 2:7) gives one explanation, that since the earth of that place is the center of all of the earth, wherever in the world men die, they will be able to be “returned” to the earth, since all men emanate from the very earth that all the world’s earth emanates from. This has led to the custom, at Jewish funerals, to add a little dirt from Jerusalem to the casket, making the burial as if the deceased is returning back to his ultimate source.
This even she’seeah reflects a deeper understanding of Jerusalem and its pinnacle, the Temple Mount. The Midrash and Kabbalah explain that both a man and the Temple were created as a microcosm of the entire universe. Every part of the Temple coincides with an organ or limb of man, and represents that concept in the universe. The central focus and holiest place of the Temple was the Holy of Holies, the inner chamber which housed the ark and the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments. Only the Kohen Gadol, high priest, entered that place once a year, on Yom Kippur. That place, spiritually, coincides with the human heart. From there, the Jewish hearts were connected to the Al-mighty.
The heart is the organ that pumps the blood to the most distant extremities of the body, bringing oxygen and nourishment to its capillaries and cells, bringing the gift of life. The Holy of Holies was the Jewish heart beating in Jerusalem, giving power to that stone, to extend its arteries to the entire world, bringing the spiritual energy to far-flung places, the source of bounty and goodness.
May we merit to see the ingathering of all our exiles to that place, with peace and joy, once and for all.