Har Hamoriya, Har Habayis, Makom Hamikdash, the point from which the Earth was formed, this special place on our planet has a recorded history dating back thousands of years with such important events as Akeidas Yitzchak, Yaakov’s dream and the ultimate building of the Beis Hamikdash. In this week’s Parsha, Hashem chose to only allude to its existence. “El Hamakom asher yivchar Hashem Elokeichem” (Re’ei 12:5), “to the place which Hashem will choose” is all Bnei Yisroel is told about this Holiest of places. Several Mephorshim explain Hashem’s decision not to identify this most prestigious place at this point in time, in order to avoid the lands inhabitants from fortifying the area and trying to prevent B’nei Yisroel from conquering it. It seems a little bit unusual that people who were idol worshippers and leading lives of depravity would care about a “holy” place – Hashem’s place.
Perhaps not. Consider that many years after entering Eretz Yisroel, Dovid Hamelech returns the Aron to Yerushalayim,, and places it in the Mishkan which was there. (Shmuel B, 6:1-18, Divrei Hayamim A, 15:1-16:43) Next, Shlomo Hamelech, with the help of nearly 200,000 men, builds the first Beis Hamikdash, taking nearly seven years to do so. (Melachim A, 5-9, Divrei Hayamim B, 2) Then, in the first of many horrific desecrations, Pharaoh Shishak of Mitzrayim plunders the Beis Hamikdash carrying off much gold and silver. (Melachim A, 14:25-28, Divrei Hayamim B, 12:1-11). Seventy Five Years later, Yoash, Melech Yehudah repairs the prior damage and establishes a maintenance fund to keep the Mikdash pristine. After more turmoil at the hands of Achaz, (Melachim B, 16:1-20, Divrei Hayamim B, 28), Yichizkiyahu and Yoshiyahu again restore the Beis Hamikdash and bring about significant religious reforms, (Divrei Hayamim 2, 34 and 35) Finally, on Tisha B’Av, in the year 3174 (587 B.C.E.), the first Beis Hamikdash is destroyed and Nebuchadnezzer murders thousands of Jews and takes others captive. (Melachim B, 24-25, Divrei Hayamim B, 36)
Seventy years later, the first Jews return from Bavel to rebuild the city and it’s walls. (Daniel 9, Haggai 2:18-19) The cycle continues when Antiochus desecrates the Mikdash by offering a Chazir on the Mizbeiach and temporarily halts all Korbanos on December 15, 167 B.C.E. Karbanos were once again brought after the heroic acts of the Maccabees helped to repossess Yerushalayim in 165 B.C.E. Two hundred and Twenty Eight years later, the Roman conquest of Eretz Yisroel began and Herod later leveled, enlarged and rebuilt the second Beis Hamikdash. On Tisha B’Av, 70 C.E, the Roman general Titus destroyed Yerushalyim, murdered its inhabitants and burned the Beis Hamikdash removing every stone and all the gold he could carry. By the time the Byzantine Emperor Herodius recaptures Yerushalayim in 629 CE, the Makom Hamikdash had largely been neglected.
In 638 C.E, the Moslim conquest begins and the original old wooden El Aksa Mosque is constructed in 700 CE, and the Dome of the Rock by Abd el-Malik, 684-690 CE. In 746, 1016 and 1033 C.E. “Earthquakes” cause damage to the mosques. In 1100 C.E. and 1165 C.E. there are records of Shul’s appearing on Har Habayis as well as the Rambam visiting and davening at the Makom Hamikdash. In 1927 another serious earthquake damages the Mosques. In June of 1967, an Israeli flag temporarily flies over Har Habayis before stewardship is given back to the Moslems. There are multiple “New Testament” and Christian sources which also document the central nature of Har Habayis.
Hashem of course knew that the Goyim would desire to “control” this location once it’s holy nature was revealed. Remember, it is a recent phenomenon where “enlightened” people began to dismiss “G-D” as a force in the world. Even today, one would be hard pressed to find another piece of real estate which stirs such emotion, contention and controversy. Dating back to Avraham Avinu, Har Habayis was revealed to Bnei Yisroel as a Makom Kadosh. With every nation in history fighting to “possess” it once they learned of its “Godliness”, we more than anyone else should constantly remember that that is where we belong. We should long to be There and daven to return with much greater intensity than those who only “recently” discovered its Kedusha...