Sunday, June 20, 2010


The Lebanon is the mountain range most frequently mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The Torah tells us that Moses... as he looked out over the Promised Land, mentioned the Lebanon Mountains specifically (Deut. 3:25). One can’t help but wonder if Moses knew that the Cedar Trees growing in the fertile ground of the Lebanon Mountains… would play such a major role in the purification process of Israel.

There were various ways in which the Cedar Trees of Lebanon were used in Biblical times. Cedar wood was used by Solomon in building the Temple (1 Kings 6:18), as a matter of fact the inside of the Beis HaMikdash was all of Cedar, no stone being visible. In addition, the outer courtyards were adorned with beautiful Cedar wood as one walked the corridors (1 Kings 7:12). The Altar was made of the same wood (I Kings 6:20)… and Cedar was also used in an ingredient for making the Holy Incense (Exodus 30:34). Cedar wood was used in many purification rituals and as an ingredient for the accompaniment to various offerings (Lev. 14:4,49,51,52 Num. 19:6). Later, Cedar was employed in building the Second Temple as well (Ezra 3:7). Because the Cedars of Lebanon played such a multi-faceted and central role in the Beis HaMikdash and its service, the Psalmist employs this imagery when referring to the “Righteous person” who is "planted in the House of HaShem."

Psalm 92:13-15
"The Tzaddik (those who are "careful" with the commandments of HaShem) will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a Cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of HaShem, they will flourish in the courts of our
G-d. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "HaShem is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him."

Why were we to become consciously aware of the varied imageries of the Cedars of Lebanon when entering the Beis HaMikdash? The term “Erez b’Levanun” or “Cedar of Lebanon” literally means the “power to make white” or the “strength to purify and make clean.” Thus the assorted modes in which Cedar wood was used became the actual agents in which purification could be attained. Because Cedar wood was used in a wide variety of applications within the Temple and its service, those who were "careful" to listen to the essential message of the Torah - became acutely aware of the many methods HaShem provided to cleanse the soul. While in the “courts of HaShem” one was surrounded by the visually stimulating sights of its architecture as well as the meaningful rituals it provided. A person would undoubtedly be challenged on many levels, to take advantage of the wide-ranging methods of purification the Temple offered. If the heart availed itself - the Torah Jew rested in the fact that HaShem was unlimited… as to the methods He used to “atone” or “purify” from the impurities left behind by our mistakes (Lev. 16). The imageries of the Temple teach us that these methods were as numerous and diverse as the ways Cedar wood was to be used in the “House of HaShem.”

Today, every Torah Jew longs for the re-building of the Beis HaMikdash and the level of purity it once provided. However, until that time, it is important for us to remember that in the times of the Beis HaMikdash… the raw natural materials for our purification grew "outside" of the Temple in the Mountains of Lebanon. Thus the raw natural materials that grow out of our Torah-centered lives in exile, retain the power to purify us from any impurities resulting from our current exile (1 Kings 8:46-53).

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Do you have questions about G-d? Well... Torah Judaism is unique in its approach to questioning. Listen to Rabbi Chaim Richman as he delves into the benefits of questioning....