Let us now return to our question. Rav Chaim Volozhiner writes (Nefesh Hachaim 1:4) that the reason why our enemies were able to destroy the Bais Hamikdash was because Hashem’s presence there was just a reflection of His Presence in our hearts. Because we had already driven Hashem from our hearts, all that was left was an empty building, devoid of any holiness. In truth, writes Rav Chaim, we are commanded to make a Mikdash in every generation. This can be fulfilled by returning Hashem’s presence to our hearts.
Once we have brought Hashem back, the physical building will be rebuilt and Hashem will once again dwell there. Thus, one who really mourns the loss of the Mikdash has actually brought Hashem back into his heart, as he shows that life without the Divine Presence is sorely lacking. Spirituality is not just a bonus – it is our life! Thus he already merits now seeing the joy of its return, as the main component of the Mikdash has been already rebuilt. And when enough Jews have done this, it will be immediately reflected by the return of Hashem to the physical building of the Mikdash.
During these three weeks let us try to seek more spirituality in our lives. A few more minutes of daily Torah learning, a little more effort in prayer, and of course, an extra good deed for our fellow man each day. At the same time let us use the different customs of mourning to arouse in ourselves a desire for the return of the Bais Hamikdash. If we do them with feeling and not just by rote we will be included in those who will merit not only to the return of Hashem to our hearts, but also to ultimately see the great happiness of Moshiach.
Rabbi Niehaus was raised in Los Angeles and subsequently attended Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim. He is the Rosh Kollel of the Zichron Aron Yaakov Kollel in Kiryat Sefer. He is also the director of the Chasdei Rivka Free Loan Gemach. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org