Selections from classical Torah sources
which express the special relationship between
the People of Israel and Eretz Yisrael
ZECHER LEMIKDASH - SEEKING ZION
Zecher Lemikdash - this term, literally translated as a "remembrance of the Sanctuary," expresses the effort of Jews not privileged with actually experiencing the Beis Hamikdash to at least connect with it in some way.
The gemara mentions two examples of zecher lemikdash which take place on Succos. One is in regard to the mitzvah of taking the four species. In the time of the Beis Hamikdash, this mitzvah was fulfilled all seven days of Succos only in the Beis Hamikdash itself, while everywhere else it was limited to the first day only. After the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash a decree was instituted by the Sanhedrin under the leadership of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai to take the four species all seven days everywhere, in order to remember what was done in the Beis Hamikdash - zecher lemikdash.
The other example relates to the mitzvah of taking the aravah which was done every day of Succos by the kohanim in the Beis Hamikdash. We do our mitzvah of taking the aravah on Hoshanah Rabbah, the seventh day of Succos, once again as a zecher lemikdash.
In addition to these two Talmudic examples, we have the custom of circling the bimah in the synagogue each day of Succos (except Shabbos) with our four species as a remembrance of the circling done in the Beis Hamikdash each day around the altar. We also recall the singing and dancing which accompanied the drawing of the water for the water libation offered on the altar by conducting our own "simchas beis hashoeva" on Succos evenings as zecher lemikdash.
What is the source for doing anything as zecher lemikdash? Rabbi Yochanan (Succos 41a) cites a passage (Yirmiyahu 30:17): "For I shall restore your health and heal your wounds, says Hashem; for they have called you an outcast, saying: This is Zion whom no one seeks." The implication of the Prophet's words, concludes Rabbi Yochanan, is that there is a need to "seek Zion" by doing things which were done in the Beis Hamikdash.
It may be suggested that all of our zecher lemikdash
actions are not only designated for the purpose of remembering
but also for traversing time and space to somehow connect with
the sanctity we seek in our love of Zion.
Written by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach, Dean, Ohr Somayach Institutions
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
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