Nov. 4, 2021

Polo Ralph Lauren (Toldos)

Did you ever wonder why there is oftentimes the number 3 embroidered on a Polo Ralph Lauren shirt? Honestly, I never really thought about this, until recently, when I noticed someone wearing one of these shirts, and I curiously asked him if he had any idea why there is a number 3 on his shirt. He didn’t know the answer. But that’s O.K., because thank G-d for Google. It turns out that the number 3 that is embroidered on the Polo Ralph Lauren shirt traces its heritage back to the traditional uniform of professional polo players. The player in position number 3 is known to be the most experienced and skilled player on the team. This is why the company Polo Ralph Lauren puts the number 3 on many of their shirts. Fascinating, I know. You learn something new every day. In Judaism, the number 3 represents so much more than the most experienced and skilled player on a polo team. It represents the 3 pillars of the world, Torah, Avodah, and Gemilus Chassadim. It also represents the 3 Avos, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. Additionally, and for the purposes of this Dvar, and the one I would like to focus on, it represents the 3 Holy Temples, Bayis Rishon, Bayis Sheni, and Bayis Shlishi. In this week’s Parshah, the Torah informs us that Yitzchak dug 3 wells. The Ramban points out that this account does not appear to have much significance at the literal level. However, there is a deeper meaning contained within the passage of the 3 wells. That is, the 3 wells dug by Yitzchak are an allusion to the 3 Holy Temples, the Bais Hamikdash! The first well, called עשק (which means “argument”), alludes to the First Temple. This represents the fact that the nations of the world contested the Temple and the Jewish people and ultimately oppressed us with wars, until the First Temple was destroyed. The second well, called שטנה (which means “harassment”), is a name used in Ezra 4:6 to refer to the Second Temple. The third well, called רחבות (which means “spacious”), alludes to the future Third Temple which will be built without quarrel or feud, when Hashem will expand our borders. The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that the analogy of digging a well precisely describes the process of building the Holy Temple. The first phase is human effort, the aspect of actually going ahead and digging the well. The next phase is that the well gets filled up with water, not due to human effort, but the water merely flows in and fills up the well by itself. This is similar to the Bais Hamikdash, which required human effort in physically constructing it, but then similar to the water flowing into the well, the presence of Hashem – the Shechinah – naturally flowed in and filled up the Bais Hamikdash. The Lubavitcher Rebbe questions this analogy, though, since it only works for the first two Temples, which was constructed by man. The Third Temple, however, the Zohar says is going to be built by Hashem, not man. If so, the analogy to the digging of the well – which requires human effort – is not accurate! How do we resolve this difficulty? The Rebbe explains so beautifully, that even according to the Zohar, the Third Temple which is called “built by Hashem” is constructed through human effort, that is, spiritual human effort. Instead of being built physically by man with stone and mortar, the Third Temple will be built from the mitzvos that we perform in the face of exile. May we realize that we are all builders, and every good deed and mitzvah that we do, is another brick being laid for the Third Bais Hamikdash!