Presenting the Place of His Presence by Alex Kalb


In Parashat VaYeira, the Torah states, “VaYikra Avraham Sheim HaMakom HaHu Hashem Yir’eh Asher Yei’ameir HaYom BeHar Hashem Yeira’eh,” “And Avraham named that place, Hashem Will See, as future generations will say: ‘On the mountain, Hashem will be seen’” (BeReishit 22:14). Rashi (ad loc. s.v. Asher Yei’ameir HaYom) notes that this mountain will be the place where the Beit HaMikdash rests.

Rav Elazar (Pesachim 88a) questions why only Ya’akov is mentioned in the Pasuk (Yeshayah 2:3), “VeHalchu Amim Rabim VeAmru Lechu VeNa’aleh El Har Hashem El Beit Elokei Ya’akov,” “Many nations will go and say, ‘Let us go up to the mountain of Hashem, to the house of the God of Ya’akov.’” Is Hashem only the God of Ya’akov and not that of Avraham and Yitzchak as well?

The Gemara explains that each of the times that the Avot pray in the Torah, the way the Torah presents their Makom HaTefillah, their place of prayer, is in essence a reference to the Beit HaMikdash. Therefore, the Gemara answers that when the Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt, it won’t be described as it was in the times of Avraham when it was called a Har, a mountain. Similarly, it will be unlike it was described in the days of Yitzchak, when the place was referred to as a Sadeh, a field, as the Torah states, “VaYeitzei Yitzchak Lasu’ach BaSadeh,” “And Yitzchak went out to pray in the field” (BeReishit 24:63). Rather, it will be as it was in Ya’akov’s days, who called it a Bayit, a permanent house, in the Pasuk, “VaYikra Et Sheim HaMakom HaHu Beit Keil,” “And he [Ya’akov] named the place, ‘The house of Hashem’” (BeReishit 28:19).

Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov perceived this coveted place differently: to Avraham, it was a mountain, to Yitzchak, a field, and to Ya’akov, a house. It’s this last perception that will be shared by all during the Final Redemption.

Many deep concepts have been encapsulated in every statement of Chazal. In these three Pesukim, what is the significance of the allusions to a “mountain,” a “field,” and a “house?”

The Beit HaMikdash is where Hashem reveals His glory to us on earth in a way that all can appreciate His dominion. This is referred to as the dwelling of the Divine Presence in this world, Hashra’at HaShechinah. When each of the Avot prayed, they requested that Hashem would reveal His presence to the world and let everyone see His glory. They asked Hashem to cause His Shechinah to dwell in this world and to establish the Beit HaMikdash in this spot. The prayers of each of the Avot had a cumulative effect until they eventually succeeded in accomplishing their goal. Our Sages conveyed this thought through a series of metaphors, referring to the place of the future Beit HaMikdash first as a mountain, then as a field, then as a house.

When Avraham first approached the site, he saw a mountain—a place where signs of an owner or Creator are invisible to the naked eye. By Yitzchak’s time, however, Avraham’s prayer had already had an effect. Yitzchak saw a field, a place where the vegetation makes it apparent that there is an owner. However, despite signs of an owner being present, a permanent owner was not yet visible since a permanent resident does not generally live in a field.

When Ya’akov came and experienced a vision there, he called the Beit HaMikdash, “The House of Hashem.” He foresaw that this place would eventually be for Bnei Yisrael, where the owner could constantly be seen. A Beit HaMikdash would be built and Hashem would reveal His glory there on a permanent basis. It is in this manner that the Beit HaMikdash will again be perceived upon our redemption.

Avraham’s Big Ideas: A Look Back on the Life of Our Father by Rabbi Chaim Poupko

An Independent Morality by Aaron Eckstein