The Vessels Of The Mikdash In 5761
Interview by Shai Gefen
a decade now, Machon HaMikdash has been working on building various vessels of
the Mikdash, starting with a golden menora, the gold and copper altars, incense
pans, the table, trumpets, vessels for pouring wine and water, and vessels from
which blood is sprinkled Ė all with the firm expectation that any minute now,
the Mikdash will be built and the vessels will be ready for immediate use. *
Beis Moshiach spoke with five senior craftsmen who have been working on this
sensitive and complicated project. In the course of the interview they tell how
they build the vessels, describe their sentiments in doing so, and discuss how
building the vessels contributes to hastening the Geula and the building of the
Beis HaMikdash * Presented in conjunction with the Torah readings which describe
the fashioning of the vessels of the Mishkan
spoke with five craftsmen who have built vessels for the Mikdash. One craftsman
said, "When you see the vessels in front of you, the Geula becomes
tangible. I see this as part of the preparations for Geula that a Jew must
make." A second craftsman added, "The vessels are powerful because
they give you the sense that youíre in the midst of Redemption." "I
had the privilege of doing one of the greatest and most significant things for
the Jewish nation of all time," concluded another craftsman. These were a
few of the remarkable comments we heard in the course of the interviews.
HaMikdash, located in the Old City, is directed by Rabbi Yisroel Ariel. The
purpose of the institute is to instill an awareness of the Mikdash and
its vessels among the public, and bring the topic down from the realm of emuna
to something tangible and real.
a million people have visited the exhibits at Machon HaMikdash on Misgav LaDach
Street. The exhibit displays vessels of the Mikdash constructed by famous
craftsmen for the third Beis HaMikdash which will be built speedily in
our time with the coming of Moshiach. The vessels were constructed according to halacha
after closely examining the approaches of various poskim.
HaMikdash can certainly be proud of its accomplishments. After extensive work
theyíve succeeded in building most of the vessels. The vessels were designed
in their proper dimensions and made out of precious metals Ė the golden altar,
the copper altar, the aron haíkodesh, the kapores, the silver
trumpets, the fire and incense pans, the vessels for sprinkling the blood,
vessels for the wine libations, and the various vessels associated with the menora,
like the fire-pans, the tongs, and many other vessels.
and Ahaliav built the vessels that were used in the Mishkan and the Beis
HaMikdash with their unique G-dly wisdom, as described in the Torah. Who
made the vessels on display today in Yerushalayim? Talented craftsmen, most of
them originally from the C.I.S., who used their rare skills to build the holy
vessels of the Mikdash.
craftsmen are overawed by the tremendous privilege that fell into their hands.
Each one of them invested all their energy into this project so that the vessels
of the Mikdash would be the best possible.
written other articles about Machon HaMikdash and its important work in
strengthening our anticipation of the Geula, but we have not yet written
about any of the artisans who have created the exhibits on display, which, so
far, a million people have seen.
"The yearning for the Mikdash and
Moshiach was aroused within us"
Landau arrived in Eretz Yisroel in 5732 (1972) from the Carpathians. His family
is observant and descends from the Noda BíYehuda. Ezraís creative talents
were discovered at an early age, and he began working professionally in 5737
when he opened a crafts business, which included creating Judaica artwork.
did you become involved with Machon HaMikdash?
staff of Machon HaMikdash came to me over a year ago and asked me to finish the
construction of the menora they had started building. I devoted myself to
it, investing hours around the clock, day and night. I finished the job after a
few months. Then we began working on building the table and finished it half a
problems face an artisan who sets out to build the vessels of the Mikdash?
of all, weíre talking about the vessels of the Beis HaMikdash, the
holiest place in the world. We feel the weight of the enormous responsibility.
Additionally, the vessels must be constructed precisely according to halacha;
the dimensions have to be perfect. To accomplish this, we sat down with rabbanim,
learned the halachos and clarified the various approaches. We built the
vessels according to very precise and well-defined rules. Throughout the work, I
was in touch with the rabbanim who guided us. We also wanted the vessels
to be aesthetically pleasing, as far as the materials used and the quality of
the work, as is fitting for vessels of the Mikdash.
about the shulchan?
shulchan was one of the most complicated vessels. There are many views
about it and we were constantly in touch with Rabbi Menachem Makover and a group
of rabbanim. It took a very long time to complete.
does a craftsman feel, knowing that he merited to build the vessels of the Mikdash,
the menora and shulchan?
was tremendously moved. Itís not just the merit of making these holy vessels
that makes me feel so moved. Just viewing the vessels is inspiring Ė imagine
how inspired I felt. I made them!
do people say when they see the vessels?
are very excited, and it definitely arouses a yearning for the Beis HaMikdash.
I remember that when we finished the menora and displayed it, there was
great excitement. [Ed: The menora built by Machon HaMikdash has rounded
branches, a view rejected by the Rambam and many of the commentators. The Rebbe
MH"M said we should follow the Rambamís view.] People came over to me and
said, "You aroused in us a yearning for the Beis HaMikdash and
Moshiach." That alone was enough for me.
strange as it sounds, I thought about this back in Russia. I grew up in a
religious home, and I imagined creating Jewish objects and vessels for the Mikdash.
Hashem helped me realize my lifeís dream. Itís quite complex and the work
involves tremendous responsibility. Itís a great merit to bring people close
to the idea of Geula.
do you think you merited to accomplish this?
it is zíchus avos. Back in Russia we spoke a lot about anticipating the
building of the Mikdash. You could say that the vessels I created are my
pride. For years I dreamed about making the menora, and baruch Hashem,
I was actually able to do so.
obvious that you put yourself into your work, and itís not just a job you were
hired to do. What is the significance of preparing the vessels of the Mikdash?
subject is very important to all the Jewish people. We have been waiting for
nearly 2,000 years for the building of the Beis HaMikdash and for our
redemption. In the meantime, until Moshiach comes, we have to prepare and do all
we can so that the vessels will be ready. When the Mikdash is built, theyíll
know that at least the vessels are ready and at least at first, they will be
able to use them.
are your plans for the future?
are working hard on the clothing of the High Priest with the choshen,
which had the urim vítumim. May we soon hear the word of Hashem through
the urim vítumim of the Kohein Gadol.
AVROHOM AURBACH: "The most
thrilling work of my life"
Avrohom Aurbach is an artist whose expertise is primarily in wood carving, which
made him the perfect person to construct the golden altar, which is made of wood
that is covered with gold.
Avrohom was born in Kishinev 54 years ago. His home was not religious, but his
grandfather, his motherís father, was religious and took him to shul to
kiss the seifer Torah. In 5736 (1976) he emigrated to Eretz Yisroel.
After serving in the army, he got involved in Yiddishkeit through Chabad
of Beíer Sheva.
Avrohom moved to Tel Aviv where he continued his artistic endeavors in
woodcarving. Two years ago, he was selected to do the intricate work on the
did you get to do this work?
a while I was doing woodcarvings in various shuls around the country.
Years ago, the people at Machon HaMikdash wanted to have a school for various
crafts. I sent photographs of my work, but in the end their project didnít
happen. Luckily, they kept my address.
years ago, Menachem Makover called me and told me about building the vessels. I
was asked to make the golden altar. Thatís how I came to construct the altar,
the most thrilling work of my life, which has led me on a spiritual journey
do you go about building an altar for the Beis HaMikdash?
we sat down to thoroughly discuss it. Since this was the incense altar, I wanted
to add Kabbalistic expression to the artistic work involved. I thought
the carvings of the golden altar ought to express a deep spiritual dimension.
woodcarvings I did for the golden altar were illustrations and pictures
expressing the seider hishtalshelus of the worlds and sífiros,
as is explained in Kabbala. The carvings express the G-dly abundance that flows
down to the Jewish people. The incense gave prosperity and wealth to the one who
offered it. Even reading the section about the ketores is said to protect
one from harm. I wanted to put all this into the woodcarvings.
are the dimensions of the golden altar?
centimeters by 48 centimeters. The altar stood not far from the golden menora,
and the Kohen would place a fire pan of coals on it every day. That was
one of the services in the Mikdash.
you imagine the entire process of the offering of the incense, how does that
affect your artistic work?
definitely adds an emotional component, and goes even beyond that. Throughout
the work, I had a tremendous spiritual elevation. Hashem helped me do a good
job, although it was very complicated work in light of the halachic
problems and various technical issues, not to mention the great responsibility
inherent in a project like this.
you ever think you would be involved in a project like this?
once did work in the Yisraelov Shul in Tel Aviv, and on the balcony of the womenís
section I carved the image of the Beis HaMikdash. I told one of the gabbaim,
"Iím making this, and I pray that, with Hashemís help, I will be able
to make the vessels of the Mikdash." And two years ago I was given
you considered whether your altar will actually be used in the Beis HaMikdash?
donít know whether my altar will be used in the Beis HaMikdash, but I
had to construct it according to all the rules so that if they need it, theyíll
be able to use it. This entails tremendous responsibility, so you constantly ask
yourself whether youíre really doing it right. Am I making it good enough for
the House of G-d?
you consult with rabbanim about your work?
course. Aside from the rabbanim at Machon HaMikdash with whom I was in
touch regularly, I spoke to other rabbanim, and read a lot about the
long did it take to build the Mizbeiach?
took nearly a year. Throughout that time, I was involved only in this project,
and dedicated all my strength and energy towards it. Throughout this time, I
conducted myself with a special measure of holiness. When I read about the
holiness of the golden altar and about the great holiness of the Beis
HaMikdash, it certainly affected the nefesh and ruach.
do you think is the contribution of the vessels you made?
no question that this work contributes towards a yearning and belief in the
coming of Moshiach. When the vessels are there in front of your eyes, itís
much more tangible and clear. I see it as part of the preparations for the Geula
that a Jew ought to make.
else would you like to do for the Beis HaMikdash?
really want to make the doors for the Beis HaMikdash and carve them. This
desire kept coming to me as I worked on the altar. I also thought about
decorating the interior of the Mikdash. Perhaps I would have something to
contribute towards that.
though it says that the Beis HaMikdash will come down complete from
says that Hashem will leave us something to do.
Avrohom Aurbach added that the images he carved were not just whatever he felt
like doing. "Everything must have inner content. Every symbol and
illustration has meaning." He expressed his hope that everything he made
gives Hashem nachas, "and in the merit of this, may we all merit to
build the Beis HaMikdash and dedicate its vessels and the golden
BLUMIN: "Working on the vessels of
the Mikdash ignited a fire within me."
haízahav" (the golden vessels) Ė the phrase rings with emotion. The
gold itself sparkles and shines and imbues the vessels with a special sense of
value and beauty.
Blumin of Kochav Yaíir is the man who worked on expertly plating the vessels
of the Mikdash with gold. He plated the menora with 43 kilograms
of gold using special techniques. He also plated the table and the other vessels
of the table.
was born in Argentina and moved to Eretz Yisroel in 5723 (1963). He served in
the army as a parachutist in Israelís wars. After his term of army service was
over, he began working for the Albit company, a high-tech Israeli firm which
manufactures weapons and advanced medical equipment. Blumin worked as a senior
member of development. He received the Israeli security prize for his unique
development that is used in F16s. After leaving Albit, he started the Golan
Meleches Machsheves company which produces gold jewelry. He retired after his
lungs became affected.
company began making Judaica for shuls around the country, in addition to
jewelry. He decorates large shuls, and just recently dedicated a "Shivisi
Hashem LíNegdi Samid" in the beautiful Belzer beis midrash.
has, in recent years, become involved in Judaism, and his work with Machon
HaMikdash in plating the vessels of the Mikdash just accelerated the
process. "The work ignited a fire within me," he says. He sees his
work for Machon HaMikdash as the pinnacle of his life, and as a holy mission. As
such he did it solely on a volunteer basis.
did you get to Machon HaMikdash?
Makover asked Amnon Weiss for help in finding someone who knew how to plate with
gold. Weiss came to me and thatís how it came about. Since then we have had a
strong connection, and I do it all as my lifeís mission.
had the privilege of doing one of the greatest and significant things of the
Jewish nation of all time. I feel that Iím doing great and authentic things.
When you remember that we had the Beis HaMikdash 2000 years ago, and now we are
making the vessels to prepare for its rebuilding, itís absolutely thrilling.
It moves the heart of any Jew. I hope and anticipate that all this work will
become reality yet this year.
does your family think?
are all excited by this unique work. Itís no simple matter to work with these
holy things, and the reactions are of admiration. It makes no difference if youíre
religious or not; itís holy for all of us.
do you look at the work from a professional standpoint?
work on the vessels of the Mikdash is magnificent, both from an artistic
as well as a historic point of view. Goldplating the altar was extremely
complicated. I think if I knew how difficult it would be, I would have thought
twice about it... But, baruch Hashem, I was successful. For me, helping
build the vessels and goldplating them, was a tremendous experience. Every layer
I placed was an additional experience.
few months ago the Vatican asked Blumin to plate a large statue with gold,
"which would make me one of the greatest and most famous artists in the
world." But Blumin turned the offer down. "I just couldnít make holy
objects for the Beis HaMikdash and chalila, líhavdil for the
this work, he feels a sense of completion, closure. When the I.D.F. forces burst
into the Old City in the liberation of Yerushalayim, he was with Rabbi Yisroel
Ariel. One day, Rav Ariel wrote a moving dedication for him: "The one who
liberated Yerushalayim should merit to build the vessels of the Mikdash
and to bring the menora to the Beis HaMikdash." Almost
prophetic! Theyíve since met again and Blumin has plated the vessels of the Mikdash
do you see as the most important aspect of building the vessels of the Mikdash?
addition to the fact that we all anticipate the Beis HaMikdash and
working on constructing the vessels of the Mikdash is part of our
anticipation, these vessels have great educational value. The vessels get even
those who are not religious involved in Judaism and the Mikdash. The
children today donít know anything about this because they are not taught
suggested to Menachem Makover that he take a traveling exhibit around the
country. These vessels can ignite the Jewish spark in everyone. I myself became
more involved in Judaism thanks to this amazing work.
"the majesty and glory of the
Geula as opposed to the darkness of Galus"
Nataf family of Yerushalayim is well known as a family involved in producing
Judaica. The craft is passed along from one generation to the next, and they use
their talents in the Natafim company which is located in Givat Shaul in
Yerushalayim. All the Nataf brothers: Eliyahu, Chaim, Daniel, Efraim, and Gadi
are partners in the company.
HaMikdash asked them to make the trumpets for the Beis HaMikdash. The mitzva
of blowing the trumpets is mentioned in the Torah a number of times. The
trumpets were used regularly, by the Leviim, at war, Yovel, Hakhel,
and on Yomim Tovim.
Nataf brothers worked hard before beginning to make the trumpets. "We sat
and learned exactly how they are supposed to look, and all the halachic
details involved. After strenuous work we produced silver trumpets over a meter
also made the fire pans for the gold and copper altars, and the censers for the
incense, the vessels for the blood, vessels for wine and water libations, and
the various vessels for the menora such as the tongs and the pans. They
are all made of pure silver, and some of them are coated with gold.
did you begin work?
ten years ago
do you think about making vessels for the Mikdash?
was a special feeling of kedusha. Everybody got involved. Whoever came to
our place could either see us working on a vessel or poring over a book about
it. The learning and the artistry went hand in hand. We in the family feel this
came from G-d. Itís amazing and exciting work.
the work require special skills?
trumpets had to be made from one solid piece, which was extremely difficult to
do. The level of knowledge when it comes to the craft of a silversmith is not
what it once was. Unfortunately thereís a descent in the generations in this
area, too. But when we finished the work we felt a tremendous spiritual
satisfaction. It was the majesty and glory of the Geula as opposed to the
darkness of Galus. It strengthened the feeling and prayer of, "renew
our days as of old."
you think that the vessels of the Nataf brothers will be used in the Beis
donít know, but the vessels are ready and they can be used. In the meantime,
many Jews come and see them and feel and live with the great anticipation of the
if youíre asking me... I have a feeling that the vessels will be used.
We pray to Hashem, "Show us its construction and make us rejoice in its
repair," and this means that the Beis HaMikdash will come down from
Heaven, but "make us rejoice in its repair," i.e., we too will merit
to fix something in the third Beis HaMikdash, which will be built
speedily in our days.
think you once received a bracha from the Rebbe?
5751 we passed by the Rebbe and brought the Rebbe a mitzva train with
each compartment presenting one mitzva, all made of silver. The Rebbe
blessed us, "that you merit to illuminate the darkness of Galus with
the light of the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu." This bracha
accompanies us throughout. When we made the vessels for the Mikdash, we
thought to ourselves that this is a partial fulfillment of the bracha Ė
to illuminate the darkness of Galus with the light of the coming of
we do all we need to do to bring the Geula. This merit of being part of
making the vessels of the Mikdash is a great zíchus which became
our lot. May we merit having the Rebbeís bracha fulfilled in us, to
illuminate the darkness of Galus with the light of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
"The vessels of the Mikdash give
one the sense that we are in the midst of Geula"
Odem, resident of Ofra, has been working on building the vessels of the Beis
HaMikdash for some years now. He was born in 1948 in Georgia in the U.S.S.R.
As a young man in 1967, he heard the news about the Six-Day War and the
conquering of Yerushalayim. "They told us that now they would be taking
down the mosques from the Temple Mt.," he remembers nostalgically,
"and we were certain that the Beis HaMikdash would be built and
Moshiach would be arriving imminently."
the Yom Kippur War his family received permission to leave for Eretz Yisroel,
and by warís end they were already there. Odem began getting involved in
Judaism after his army service, and then he settled in Ofra. Heís been working
in art since 5740 (1980), when he began designing and creating Pesach plates, menoros,
and numerous items associated with Jewish art.
the beginning of 5750 (1990), Rabbi Yisroel Ariel came to me to discuss the
possibility of constructing the menora. My first reaction was, ĎAll my
life, Iíve dreamed of doing just that...í Rabbi Ariel brought me 400 pages
of research about the golden menora. For an entire year we worked on the
design of the menora.
know the menora was constructed out of a solid piece of gold. After a lot
of complicated work, I fashioned a mold of the menora out of wax and we
poured the golden menora using that mold.
finishing it, I worked on the aron and the keruvim, as you can see
in the book on the Mikdash. The aron is only an exhibit and is not
built according to the dimensions of the Beis HaMikdash. I also made
vessels for the wine and water libations out of gold and silver.
other aspects are there to work of this kind?
work has infinite dimensions. You start learning them and donít finish. Since
I began working on the menora and vessels of the Mikdash, I became
aware of layers of meaning based on Kabbala and Chassidus. I learned a
great deal from the Rebbe.
example, I learned about the significance of the menora and why it has
three steps. The Rebbe explains that the menora illuminates a dark world,
and the three steps symbolize the three things upon which the world stands Ė Torah,
avoda, and gmilus chasadim. This teaching amazed me and gave me a
significance is there to the fact that specifically in the darkness of Galus,
we begin building the vessels of the Mikdash?
no question that making the vessels intensifies the anticipation for Geula.
Every Jew who sees the vessels on exhibition is affected, and realizes how much
we lack, and that the time has come to use these vessels!
your personal feelings?
the vessels gave me an unusual hisromemus ruach (uplifted spirit). When I
parted from the menora after completing it, I made a huge party for all
the residents of Ofra. I feel that we are in Yemos HaMoshiach and that Geula
is imminent, though unfortunately we still get constant reminders that we are
still in Galus.
else would you want to construct?
thought a great deal about preparing the harps which the Levites will play in
the Beis HaMikdash. Chazal say how important the harps were in
bringing joy and ruach haíkodesh to the Beis HaMikdash, and I
hope I can do it.
Beis HaMikdash is the beauty of the world, and the vessels are some of
the most beautiful things in the world, as Chazal themselves say. Itís
a pity we donít internalize this enough.
should we do so?
work of Machon HaMikdash is very important and uplifting. The impact of the
vessels is greater than I imagined it would be. Iíve seen Jews far from Yiddishkeit
become closer to Judaism as a result of seeing the holy vessels. The power they
have comes from the fact that they transform the abstract into something
tangible, and they give one the sense that we are in the midst of Geula.