In Parashat Yitro, Bnei Yisrael smoothly travel from Refidim to Har Sinai where they receive God’s Torah and accept His Mitzvot; however, after Kabbalat HaTorah, Bnei Yisrael cannot continue their journey into Eretz Yisrael to establish the Beit HaMikdash, where Hashem’s presence in this corporeal world would rest. What caused the delay between Bnei Yisrael receiving the Torah and entering Israel?
The final section of this week’s Haftarah may shed light on this question when describing the criteria that Bnei Yisrael must meet to deserve the Beit HaMikdash, “VaYikra Shemo Pele Yo’eitz Eil Gibor Avi Ad Sar Shalom,” “He Who is Wondrous Advisor, Mighty God, Eternal Father shall give him [King Chizkiyahu] the name, ‘Prince of Peace’” (Yeshayahu 9:5). In order to find a leader to rebuild the Jewish nation after the destructive reign of King Achaz, Hashem must recognize his successor (and son) as a “Prince of Peace.” But why does the Jewish leader need this status to retain the Holy Sanctuary?
The purpose of the Beit HaMikdash and the Davidic dynasty is to be Mekadesh Et Sheim Hashem, to sanctify God’s name. Therefore, when we sanctify Hashem’s name by striving to achieve peace and being a “Or LaGoyim,” “light unto the nations,” we will have the Holy Sanctuary to spread our message. When we accept the Mitzvot in Sefer Shemot, however, we still fail to elevate ourselves to the point where we are able to promulgate Hashem’s greatness to the nations. Without that prerequisite, merely having the Torah is not enough to build the Temple in Israel. When we Jews are able to show the world the greatness of Hashem’s name we will be worthy to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash. Therefore, our challenge is to follow in the ways of King Chizkiyahu and prove our worthiness by striving to be leaders in peace.