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by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

This Sunday is Tisha B'av - 9th of Av, the day we mourn the destruction of the first and second Temples. As we discussed last week the Temples were not just physical edifices that stood with all their beauty on the Temple Mount. These buildings were a model of spirituality and self-improvement that continues to shine within every soul. 


Another example of this idea can be understood from the Temples layout and structure that was divided into three main components:


  1. A small room called the "Holy of Holies". This was the holiest part of the Temple which housed the Ark and the Ten Commandments.  
  2. A larger area called the "Holy Room", containing three sacred objects -the candelabra, the table for the showbread and a small altar for incense.  
  3. The courtyard where most of the Temple activity took place. Here sacrifices were offered, the Levites sang and the Jews prayed and studied.

The mystics teach that the three primary organs of the human body are the brain, the heart and the liver. They represent the governing forces of human function - intellect, emotion and behaviour. The purpose of the mind is to provide maturity, balance and direction for our emotions. In turn healthy emotions add passion, excitement and enthusiasm to our behaviour. Activity without feelings leads to apathy, and emotion without intellectual guidance can be destructive and out of control.


The model for these three forces are reflected in the Temple structure -  

  • The Tablets that lay in the "Holy of Holies" represent the Divine teachings of the Torah that build a strong mind with healthy perspectives and strong values  
  • The three objects in the "Holy Room" represent guided and focused emotions that are divided into three columns (as explained in the teachings of Kabbalah).
  • The busy activity in the courtyard connects to our daily behaviour, fuelled by the feelings of the heart and directed by the guidance of the mind.

On Tisha B'av, as we mourn the destruction of the Temple and pray for its rebuilding, we add meaning to this day by continuously developing and building our own inner Temple, the 'Temple of the Soul'.

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