What is the real purpose of the Beis HaMikdash? The Gemara in Pesachim )דף פ"ח.( states that it is a place which should be viewed not as did Avraham, who called it a mountain, and not as did Yitzchak, who called it a field, but rather as did Yaakov who called it a house. The reference in connection with Yaakov is based on our Parsha, where Yaakov, after waking up following his dream, says that this place is none other than Hashem's house and is the gateway to Heaven (בראשית כ"ח:י"ז). Yaakov thus thought of the Beis Hamikdash as a house for Hashem. Yitzchak, however, apparently emphasized another function of the Beis HaMikdash, referring to it as a field, that is, a place for the growth and development of a person as well as a place for man to bring out his emotions and express them to Hashem in prayer. Avraham presented a third function, viewing the place as a mountain, meaning a place for man to ascend to, to look up to, and in which to feel that he is in the presence of the Shechinah itself.
Yaakov's view of the Beis HaMikdash was affected by the fact that he was going into Golus. In Golus, the three functions of the Beis HaMikdash, all of which are important, would be combined and represented by a house which would include three divisions: a house of prayer, a house of study, and a house for a Jewish family. A house of study must serve as a place in which man can feel that he is in the presence of Hashem, and a place where man ascends in terms of holiness which then becomes a part of him. This is the function that Avraham thought the Beis HaMikdash should have, as symbolized by a mountain. A house of prayer must serve as a place where man can pour out his emotions and express them to Hashem in his prayers. This is what Yitzchak thought when he viewed the Beis HaMikdash as a field, an environment conducive to bringing out all of man's various emotions and expressing them in Hashem's service. Finally, the Jewish house is what Yaakov envisioned the Beis HaMikdash to represent. If parents raise a proper Jewish family, learning, obeying and leading their life by the Torah, an ordinary
house can become an awesome place of Hashem's presence and a direct gateway to Heaven. In the absence of the real Beis HaMikdash, it becomes that much more important to make sure these "houses" exist.
A related lesson about Golus may also be learned from Yaakov and his dream. According to Chazal, during Yaakov's dream, the angels of various nations were going up and down a ladder. The angels of Bavel went up 70 rungs and then came down because Bnai Yisrael's exile in Bavel would last 70 years. The angel of Madai climbed 52 rungs before he returned, and the angel for Greece ascended 180 rungs. All of this symbolized that Bnai Yisrael would be exiled into various nations but eventually would return. When the turn came for the angel of Edom, Eisav's nation, Yaakov watched as the angel started climbing. He went up 20 rungs, then 50, then 100, then 200 and kept on climbing. Yaakov was not told how long Bnai Yisrael would be in the exile of Edom; Chazal say that Hashem did not want to show Yaakov the time for this final redemption because he wanted us, Yaakov's descendants, to strive for it every day.
If we constantly strive for the Geulah, and live by the Torah, the place of study, of prayer, and the awesome place with Hashem's presence for all of Bnai Yisrael will be rebuilt. All the functions which our Avos viewed as part of the Beis HaMikdash will be united, and all of Bnai Yisrael will live happily. Until that time, we must work at creating in our own homes and communities that which the Beis HaMikdash was meant to represent. Then we will be worthy of the Geulah.