I try to avoid politics when learning the Bible, but let’s face it, David was a king, a political figure of the first degree. Jerusalem was his capital but, first and foremost, he intended it to be the permanent home of the Temple. Though King David bought the mountaintop threshing floor that was to be the site of the Temple, he did not merit building the Temple. That is because David had “shed much blood and fought great battles” (I Chronicles 22:8). Instead, the job was to be completed by his son Solomon, about whom God said: “you will have a son who will be a man at rest, for I will give him rest from all his enemies on all sides; Solomon will be his name and I shall confer peace and quiet on Israel in his time” (I Chronicles 22:9).
Just as David was disqualified from building the Temple because “he had blood on his hands,” the Bible teaches that the stones used for the altar must be undressed, never having been fashioned with iron tools (Exodus 20:22). The Sages explain the reason:
“Since iron was created to shorten man’s days and the altar was created to prolong man’s days, and it is not right therefore that that which shortens [life] should be lifted against that which prolongs [life].” Middot 3:4
The purpose of the Temple is to promote life, peace and harmony. It therefore could not be built by a person or materials that engaged in warfare and shortened people’s lives, even if the wars and battles were necessary.
Even though Solomon inherited the crown from his father, he did not have to engage in warfare. He lived at a time of peace as God had promised. This essential difference may hold the key to Jerusalem’s future and the building of the Third Temple.
David blesses his son, Solomon, in Psalm 72 with wisdom and righteousness:
Of Solomon. O God, endow the king with Your judgments, the king’s son with Your righteousness; that he may judge Your people rightly, Your lowly ones, justly. Psalms 72: 1-2
But Solomon’s famed wisdom brought with it another benefit. Rulers from around the world came to him in alliances that made him stronger, as David predicted:
Let him rule from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth. Let desert-dwellers kneel before him, and his enemies lick the dust. Let kings of Tarshish and the islands pay tribute, kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. Let all kings bow to him, and all nations serve him. Psalms 72:8-11
Indeed, his wisdom and wise judgments attracted rulers from all over to Solomon and, in turn, to the Temple he built. Whereas in other times foreign rulers came to oppress or subjugate the Jewish people, in Solomon’s time they came in peace; to learn from Solomon and to feel God’s presence.
All of this makes today’s media bias and misrepresentation of Jerusalem so tragic. The Tempel Mount is often described as a “flashpoint of violence.” In truth, the Temple and the Temple service are the sources of peace in this world. In fact, according to Jewish tradition, the Temple’s foundation stone was the foundation of the entire world (Yoma 53b) and the source of its continued divine sustenance. This stone was referred to as the “navel” of the world, and just as the fetus receives sustenance from the mother through the navel, so too the world receives constant sustenance from God via the Temple.
The true glory of Jerusalem can never be realized except through peace. The word peace (shalom שלום), is part of the city’s name (ירושלים). Shalom also means complete (shalem). Dividing Jerusalem damages its essence. There is no “east” or “west” Jerusalem, just as Solomon famously proved that there can be no ‘half-baby’.
The construction of the Temple is both a sacred duty and a great honor that our people have not fulfilled in many centuries. This monumental task demands an environment of external peace and internal harmony. By fostering the necessary conditions of tranquility and unity, we can actively work towards its realization. May these conditions be established swiftly, leading to the rebuilding of the Temple with divine speed.
On the 28th of Iyar, Jerusalem Day, we celebrate the reunification of Israel’s eternal capital and the realization of David’s dream. May we all be blessed to see the re-establishment of his dynasty and the prophesied building of the Third Temple on the site he consecrated 3,000 years ago.