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How did we survive?
Can you imagine that day?
The First Temple: never had there been a more perfect society. An entire people dedicated to the service of God. Dignitaries from the four corners of the world came to witness the glory of the Kingdom of David and the shining Temple on the Hills of Yerushalayim.
Kohanim in their holy attire, prophets speaking the word of God, the Sanhedrin dispensing law directly from the will of the Ruler of the Universe – an entire people whose perfectly-ordered existence reflected the will of the Creator. Holy children, shining in their innocence, astounding in the depth of their understanding. Talmidei chachamim filled with the knowledge of Torah, their every movement and expression a reflection of the Divine Will. Peace. Tranquility. Abundance. And not simply in this world: it would lead to the Next World as well.
And it was all destroyed.
“On this night, weep and wail, my children. For on this night my Holy Temple was destroyed and my palaces were burnt down. The entire House of Israel shall lament over my agony and bewail the conflagration” (Kinnos 3, Tisha B’Av).
The Second Temple: Can you imagine the hopelessness? Where could you find hope? An entire people dispersed to the four corners of the world. How could we ever survive as a nation? How could we ever even begin to maintain our holy way of life? How could we hold on to the Torah? How would we survive the utter blackness that confronted us on that day of catastrophe?
It is incredible that there remains a Jewish people today. We have so many problems and conflicts, and a powerful yetzer ha’ra pulling us to accept the ways of the nations among whom we dwell – and still we survive. Still we cling to our Torah. Still we cling to our ancient way of life.
If you look in the Torah you will see there have been many occasions on which it seemed the world was ending. In fact, the world actually did end on many occasions. But God has decreed t’chias hameisim – resurrection of the dead. Consider the following:
The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The Great Flood. The Destruction of the Tower of Babel. The selling of Yosef, which seemed to doom the Family of Yaakov Avinu. The Destruction of the First Temple. The Destruction of the Second Temple.
The brutal persecutions of our seemingly endless current Exile, culminating in the unspeakable events of the Holocaust.
And finally, the events of today, as the entire world is gathering against the Holy Land, by sea as well as by land, converging from sides. All our former “friends” are turning against us as a new Tisha B’Av threatens to overwhelm us, God forbid.
What are we to do?
The amazing fact is that we have survived all these catastrophes. We are still here. We still grasp onto our Torah with all our strength. Even the assimilated Jew knows he is a Jew.
Every event that occurs to us has been predicted, and this in itself is proof that there is a Ruler of the universe. In a way, it is shockingly simple. We say twice a day, “Beware lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others and bow to them. Then the wrath of God will blaze against you and you will swiftly be banished from the goodly land which God gives you” (Shema, Deuteronomy 11:16-17).
This is terrible and incredibly comforting.
For if the Torah predicted it all, that means that God is in His Place. The ancient Truths are in place. Nothing has changed. This means that if we caused it by allowing our hearts to “be seduced” by “turning astray” and “serving gods of others,” we can fix it by dedicating our hearts to torah, turning back and serving God.
We can fix it.
When ancient Egypt collapsed, all the Egyptians collapsed with it. The greatest culture in the ancient world was swallowed up in the Ten Plagues and the Red Sea. There was nothing left! Imagine being an Egyptian in that utter catastrophe. Even if you survived physically, how could you avoid total hopelessness and despair?
And now imagine that you were a Jew in ancient Egypt. The same time and the same place. You have before you our teacher Moses and Aaron the kohen gadol. Moses, the greatest man who ever lived; Aaron, the shining figure of rock-like integrity who brought peace from Heaven down to earth. These two shining figures are going to lead you out of burning Egypt to Mount Sinai, where you are going to meet God Himself, Who will give you His Holy Torah.
The Egyptian is filled with despair; the Jew is suffused with light and joy.
What is different today? The nations crumble and decay, and we – l’havdil – stand on the brink of the Day of Mashiach. Yes, the nations can share our glory if they wish. All they have to do is bless us and help us. They also have free will. As it is written, “I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12:3).
May we soon see the day when God wipes away all our tears and the Holy Temple once more stands in shining glory on the Temple Mount, never more to depart.
About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, “2020 Vision” (Feldheim) is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Russian, and Georgian. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul” (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, and Georgian) and “Worldstorm.” Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com. Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.
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Few Arab Israelis found anything positive in the decision of its MKS to join any Gaza flotilla.
US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi
New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm
Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”
Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive
There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN
Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well
When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel
Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.
Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly
What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?
Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach
The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi
Jews thank Hashem at every step. We thank Him for our most basic physical existence. We thank Hashem for every step, for every breath, for every aspect of our elevation from the dust.
In the recent Gaza war and its aftermath, we saw a totally illogical reaction from the world.
Our rabbis told us it’s going to be very difficult before Mashiach comes. Should we fool ourselves?
The unwarranted hatred among us that caused the destruction of the Second Temple clearly still plagues us.
At the end of the harvest, winter begins. The earth becomes cold and hard, nights are long, and the sun seems far away in the southern sky. The sap ceases to flow in the trees. But in this season of temporary “death” Hashem sends down harbingers of coming life in the form of tal u’matar livrachah – dew and rain for a blessing – upon the earth.
“Logically” speaking, after the millennia of hatred and destruction directed against us, there should not be one Jew in the world today who still keeps the Torah.
They were lining up for gas masks in Israel.
Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/overcoming-catastrophe/2010/07/14/
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