“I will be for them a small sanctuary (mikdash me’at) in the lands where they will come.” (Yechezkiel 11:16)
Our sages explain this psouk to mean that even outside of Eretz Yisroel, in the place and time of golus, there is a “small mikdash” which is a scaled-down example of the “great mikdash” in Yerushalayim. Rebbi Yitzchok in the gemora (Megillah 29a) said that these are the shuls and study halls in Bovel (Babylon), and Rebbi Eliezer said that this is “Beis Rabbeinu sh’b’Bovel” — “the house of our Rebbe in Bovel”.
The Rebbe, as might be expected, holds that these two sages do not have an argument, that each one surely agrees with the opinion of the other; the only difference is what they consider to be the main and most important fulfillment of the prophecy of “mikdash me’at“. Rebbi Eliezer holds that it is the study hall (place of learning) and shul (place of Tefilla) of “Rabbeinu”. Every shul possesses this quality in a small measure, but the primary and most complete manifestation of it is in the shul and study hall of the Rav whose Torah decisions are followed by the people of the city. And, in a fuller sense, there is one place which is the main “mikdash me’at” in the time of golus: the shul and study hall of the leader of the generation.
Our sages state that “Everywhere that Yisroel were exiled, the Shechina was exiled with them.” The sages in our gemora asked where in Bovel is the Shechina to be found? Abaye answered: in the shul of Hutzal and the shul of Shaf v’Yosiv in Nehardea — sometimes here and sometimes there. These were two unique shuls in Bovel, the first being close to the study hall of the revered Ezra the Sofer, the second being built from stones that were brought from the Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim and “the Shechina was always found there” (Rashi). It called “Shaf v’Yosiv” (meaning “uprooted and [re]settled”) to indicate that “the Mikdash travelled and settled there”. It was literally the Beis Hamidkash of that generation, as “the revelation of the Shechina that was in the Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim (and nowhere else) traveled and settled in this special place in Bovel, in place of the Mikdash in Yerushalayim.“
Of course, the Shechina dwells in every shul where Jews gather for Tefillah, and every study hall where they learn Torah, but nowhere is the Shechina more revealed than in the Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim, or (in the time of golus) in these special buildings. Similarly we find that “in the future the shuls and study halls of Bovel will be established in Eretz Yisroel” — this is true of every shul and study hall, all of which will be connected to the Third Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim. And when these places are relocated to Eretz Yisroel, the revelation of the Shechina will also return to Eretz Yisroel, and there will no longer be a revelation of the Shechina outside the land of Israel where the “mikdash me’at” stood. The Rebbe adds (quoting the Maharsha): Continue reading