Hora’ah – הוראה – Teaching
As the Temple (Beis HaMikdash) provided the connection between G-d and man, so does the tzaddik:
“The Talmud discusses the following verse from the Torah: “You should attach yourself to Him, [i.e., to G-d],” and asks, “How can one attach oneself to G-d? G-d is compared to fire, so how can you attach yourself to fire?” It is explained there that the way to become connected to G-d is by attaching and connecting oneself to a tzaddik. Connecting to a tzaddik is neither “un-Jewish” nor a spiritual luxury for a select group of truth seekers; on the contrary, it is the only method prescribed by the Torah to become truly connected to G-d. This idea — commonly thought to be the exclusive domain of chassidic teachings and practice — is a basic principle outlined in the Talmud, the ultimate authority of Jewish law. Nevertheless, the question still remains: Why should a Jew place so much importance on a human being of flesh and blood? Why should such a large part of his Jewish practice focus on being connected to a tzaddik? Why not just focus directly on G-d? … This can be explained with a powerful statement from the Talmud which states that the passing of a tzaddik is equivalent to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash: The fast of the fifth (month) refers to Tishah B’Av, for on that date the house of our G-d was burned. The fast of the seventh (month) refers to the third of Tishrei, for on that date, Gedaliah Ben Achikam was assassinated…. The [latter] day is included here to teach you that the death of the righteous is equivalent to the burning of the house of our G-d. It is an obvious deduction that if the passing of a tzaddik is like the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, then the life of the tzaddik must also be similar to the purpose and function of the Beis HaMikdash.”
“A Tzaddik and His Students: The Rebbe-Chassid Relationship,” Rabbi Shloma Majeski, p. 37.
This is further illustrated with a story from the Talmud where it discusses the actions of a king named Herod whose claim to be Jewish was questioned by all the Jewish authorities. During his reign, the great Sages at that time ruled that according to Torah law he did not have the qualifications to be a Jewish king. To show them what he thought of their ruling, Herod had them all killed. The only one he allowed to live was a relative of his named Bava ben Buta, but Herod blinded him in order to weaken his power. Ironically, Herod would come to Bava ben Buta for advice, and after a period of time recognized the value of his incredible Talmudic wisdom, lamenting, “I sincerely regret my actions because I see what a tremendous asset these Rabbis would have been to the world. How can I repent and correct the damage I did?” “Because you destroyed the tzaddikim,” he answered, “the way to repent and correct that is by rebuilding the Temple.” As the Talmud states: “Since you extinguished the light of the world, (for so are the Sages called)… Occupy yourself now with restoring the light of the world, [meaning the Temple]:
“See, Sir, what this wicked slave [Herod] does. What do you want me to do to him, replied Baba b. Buta. He said: I want you to curse him. He replied with the verse, Even in thy thoughts thou shouldst not curse a king.1 Said Herod to him: But this is no king. He replied: Even though he be only a rich man, it is written, And in thy bedchamber do not curse the rich;2 and be he no more than a prince, it is written, A prince among thy people thou shalt not curse.3 Said Herod to him: This applies only to one who acts as one of thy people, but this man does not act as one of thy people. He said: I am afraid of him. But, said Herod, there is no-one who can go and tell him, since we two are quite alone.4 He replied: For a bird of the heaven shall carry the voice and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.5 Herod then said: I am Herod. Had I known that the Rabbis were so circumspect, l should not have killed them. Now tell me what amends I can make. He replied: As you have extinguished the light of the world, [for so the Rabbis are called] as it is written, For the commandment is a light and the Torah a lamp,6 go now and attend to the light of the world [which is the Temple, of which] it is written, And all the nations become enlightened by it.7 Some report that Baba b. Buta answered him thus: As you have blinded the eye of the world, [for so the Rabbis are called] as it is written, if it be done unwittingly by the eyes of the congregation,8 go now and attend to the eye of the world, [which is the Temple] as it is written, I will profane my sanctuary, the pride of your power, the delight of your eyes.”
Bava Bathra 4a
“Yeshua answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”