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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Bais Hamikdash’

The Three Weeks – Realizing What We Are Missing

Friday, July 13th, 2012

The Geese and the Peasants

The story is told of a Chassidic Rebbe who stayed one night in the attic of a simple farmer. Promptly at chatzos (midnight) the Rebbe sat on the floor and began saying Tikkun Chatzos (a prayer said most nights by pious individuals, mourning the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.) Immediately, a fountain of tears began to flow from his eyes, as he unabashedly mourned our great loss. Soon, his crying became so loud that it aroused the farmer and his wife from their sleep. The concerned farmer quickly knocked on the door and asked if everything is okay. The Rebbe answered that he is simply mourning the Bais Hamikdash. Seeing the puzzled look on the ignorant farmer’s face, the Rebbe began to vividly describe the glory of the Bais Hamikdash and what will be when Moshiach comes. He portrayed all the Jews around the world returning to Eretz Yisroel, unhindered by the influences of the non-Jews. As the Rebbe became more and more excited he grabbed the farmer’s hands and said “Come, let us pray for Moshiach! Perhaps at this moment, the Gates of Heaven are open, and our prayers will be answered!”

“I must ask my wife”, replied the simpleton. He rushed to his wife who looked at him in disbelief. “What?! Leave our farm and our geese and go to Eretz Yisroel?! Absolutely not!”

The farmer returned to the Rebbe with her answer. “Go remind her,” said the Rebbe gently, “about the peasants who are constantly stealing from you and ruining your farm. In Eretz Yisroel you won’t have any of these problems.”

The farmer trudged down the stairs and told his wife the response. After thinking for a moment, her face lit up. “I don’t mind if Moshiach comes, but he should take all the peasants with him to Eretz Yisroel, and leave us with our farm!”

Are we any different than that foolish couple? Each year, when “The Three Weeks” arrives, the time of mourning over the Bais Hamikdash, do we truly mourn the loss, and desire Moshiach’s coming? Or perhaps we just go through the outward motions, and look for legal loopholes. Yes, it is difficult for us to feel the loss, because we don’t really understand what we are missing.

Anyone Who Mourns Jerusalem

Our sages tell us (Bava Basra60b) “Anyone who mourns Jerusalem will merit and see its joy.” The simple implication of “anyone” is, no matter who you are and how little you mourn, you will merit seeing its rebuilding. That means that even now, just by reading these words you have joined the ranks of those who are seeking the redemption! However, this statement is a little difficult. Why is it written in present tense: “he will merit and see its joy,” which implies that right now he will see it. Shouldn’t it have said that he will see it in the near future when it will be rebuilt?

The Mikdash – A Miniature Mount Sinai

In a previous article (The Revelation On Mount Sinai, 5-25) we described how at Mount Sinai we merited the most fabulous revelation in the world’s history. We saw and clearly felt Hashem’s presence and His solitary rule. In addition we merited a feeling of extreme closeness to Hashem. In Shir Hashirim (1:2), the Song of Songs, we yearn once again for that closeness. “Kiss me with the kisses of Your mouth!” This refers to the moment when we heard the Ten Commandments. The Ramban tells us that the Mishkan, which was the forerunner of the Bais Hamidash, was in truth a miniaturization of that spectacular revelation. Meaning, that connection was not a one-time event, it continued in the Mishkan and subsequently the Bais Hamikdash!

When a person entered the Bais Hamikdash he immediately felt and saw Hashem’s presence. There were many miracles that could be instantly witnessed. For example, every morning the Kohen took a small portion of ashes from the altar and threw it on the solid marble floor, where it was swallowed instantaneously, leaving no trace. On the altar was a column of smoke which rose to heaven like a marble pillar. Even on the windiest day, it stayed straight! But that was only a small part of the uniqueness which resulted from Hashem’s presence. Jerusalem (not Disneyland) at the time of the Bais Hamikdash was called “The Happiest Place on Earth” (see Tehillim48). This was because one constantly merited atonement from sins. The joy which resulted from that closeness to Hashem was indescribable.

A Life Of Spirituality

All the above shouldn’t just excite a tzaddik, but every one of us. We know that we were created to serve Hashem, and therefore any spiritual accomplishment brings us more joy than a windfall on Wall Street. And if we lose an opportunity, we are greatly saddened. Even more so, we are saddened by the extreme disgrace of Hashem’s Honor in the world. The power and success of those who profane His name seems unstoppable, and it is extremely painful. Therefore, we yearn for the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash with all our hearts. For then, Hashem’s glory will fill the world, and we will merit to once again be close to Him. All the hindrances in serving Him will disappear and we will soar to great heights of spirituality.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Eternal Life… Attainable? Dear Rachel,

My problem is so “out of the box” that you might choose not to address it. I am a man considered immensely successful. Indeed, I am fortunate to have lucked out both where money and romance are concerned — contrary to that old saying that goes something like “no luck in love, luck in money.”

I have also been blessed with good health and a beautiful family. So what could possibly be bothering me, you must be thinking…

Bluntly stated, it is the thought of having to leave my fabulous fortune behind one day. Oh, I know my prosperity will benefit my children and grandchildren down the line, but somehow it still seems futile to me to have amassed such opulence and to be unable to be around forever to enjoy it.

As crazy as it sounds, I crave eternal life. How do I overcome this fixation (which, by the way, I have divulged to no one)?

I am fully aware that our religion espouses eternal life in the hereafter and that the only possessions we carry with us beyond this existence are the merits we have accrued in our lifetime. (I mention this to spare you the trouble of lecturing me on what I am already well acquainted with.)

Please don’t recommend that I seek psychiatric counseling — out of the question! I’d have a lot of explaining to do to my wife; besides, I have no intention of sharing my hidden preoccupation with anyone.

I was rather hoping you would have some words of wisdom for me in your arsenal of advice.

Middle-aged and graying quickly Dear Graying,

It’s only fair to say that the majority of us share your reluctance to leave this world behind. Our reasoning, however, is where we part company. Whereas most of us hope to live long productive lives and to be around to reap the fruits of our labor in the form of nachas for generations to come, we readily concede that our ultimate fate is not in our hands.

Nevertheless, believe it or not, you are in good company. There once lived a king who had everything money could buy, and then some, and in his legendary reign he too experienced a stage remarkably similar to yours.

At the apex of his monarchy, as he was luxuriating in a lifestyle none of us could ever fathom, he began to bemoan the fact that he’d one day need to leave his lavish lifestyle and vast kingdom behind.

One day, as he strolled the grounds of his lush estate and dwelled upon man’s inevitable bitter end, a beautiful bird with a small golden pitcher in its mouth caught his attention. Shlomo HaMelech, who had the ability to communicate with the creatures of the earth, inquired about the origin and content of the pitcher.

The bird let the king know that it had just arrived from Gan Eden and that the pitcher held a small amount of water of “eternal life” for the one who would drink it. The bird then placed the pitcher at the king’s feet and flew away.

The king exulted in this unexpected turn of events, his melancholy mood lifting instantly. The wisest of all men, however, felt his heart and mind cautioning him to be wary of taking a life-altering step that may prove to be irreversible.

After concealing the little golden pitcher behind a giant old tree, Shlomo HaMelech left for the Bais Hamikdash to confer with his trusted advisers. Upon hearing of the king’s wondrous find, they urged him to go for it, genuinely wanting their beloved king to be happy and to live forever.

The king suddenly noticed that his most trusted confidante was not among them. Since he wouldn’t undertake such a serious move without the input of Nosson HaNavi (who was ill at the time), the king instructed that the old prophet be brought to him on his bed.

After confiding his feelings of late to the prophet, as well as the incident that had recently transpired, Shlomo HaMelech posed his all-consuming question: to drink [the special water] or not to drink. Nosson HaNavi asked him whether anyone was permitted to drink it, or only the king…

Parshas Vayikra: ‘The Call Of Humility’

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

In his classic work, Tending The Vineyard, my Rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein, relates the following vignette:

“At the time that my wife and I made aliyah, the Ministry of Interior required certification through the chief rabbinate that any new immigrants were Jews in order to qualify for citizenship and immigrant benefits. After an hour-long wait at the ministry to be interviewed, my wife and I sat before a hard-faced clerk. I did not have a letter from a rabbi certifying to my Jewishness, but I felt confident that since I was on the chief rabbinate’s list of approved rabbis whose letter would be accepted to verify the Jewishness of others, I would suffer no problem.

“Well, I was wrong. The clerk acknowledged that my name did appear on that august list of recognized rabbis but she sweetly said: ‘Simply because you are acceptable to say about others that they are Jewish does not necessarily mean that you are yourself Jewish.’

“This baffling piece of legal logic astounded me. I told my wife to continue sitting at this clerk’s booth and I hurried out and hailed a cab that delivered me to the house of a rabbinical friend of mine whose name was likewise on the approved list of rabbis. He wrote out a letter for me and I took the same cab back to the Interior Ministry. My poor wife was still sitting at the clerk’s booth as I breathlessly charged into the office and presented the letter to the clerk.

“The clerk smiled at us and said: ‘Now you’re Jewish!’ And so we were. Never underestimate the power of a letter written by a rabbi who is on the approved list of the Israeli chief rabbinate.”

Chumash Vayikra, also known as Toras Kohanim, is chiefly dedicated to the unique laws pertaining to the Kohanim and their daily Service in the Mishkan. It commences with a detailed account of the many laws endemic to the various offerings brought in the Mishkan.

Aside from animal offerings, there were also Mincha/flour offerings that could be offered. Although there were different types of Mincha offerings, flour and water were universal ingredients of every Mincha. Yet, the Torah warns that when the flour and water were mixed they could never be allowed to leaven or ferment. “Any meal-offering that you offer to G-d shall not be prepared leavened, for you shall not cause to go up in smoke from any leavening or any honey as a fire-offering to G-d” (Vayikra 2:11).

As we are all aware, there is another prohibition of chometz, during the days of Pesach. Throughout the rest of the year there is absolutely no prohibition to eat chometz, in fact bread plays a central role in many food-oriented mitzvos. But on Pesach the mere ownership of chometz becomes a serious transgression.

The austere prohibition against owning chometz on Pesach and offering chometz on the altar seems to be interconnected. What is the deeper idea behind that connection?

In order for bread to rise, leavening must take place, catalyzed by yeast or another leavening agent. As oxidation occurs, air pockets develop. Nothing is added to the dough, but it gets bigger, propelled upward by warm air. It is nothing more than the process of nature which causes dough to rise.

Our egos are compared to the yeast in dough. Our ego comprises our sense of self, which is vital to a healthy identity. It is our ego which propels us to accomplish and to grow. But at the same time our egos are always in danger of becoming inflated with “hot air.” This occurs when our sense of identity becomes befuddled, and we no longer appreciate our uniqueness. A false ego can persuade us that trivialities are hugely significant and we can easily be distracted from what truly matters. Just as a healthy ego helps us love, be compassionate, and sensitive to others, it also can cause us to become self-absorbed, envious, and hateful.

Matzah, which consists of nothing more than flour and water that has not been allowed to leaven, symbolizes self-negation before G-d. It is flat and contains nothing but the barest essentials, demonstrating that we are nothing without G-d.

Chometz, on the other hand, symbolizes our sense of identity and independent contribution. Ultimately G-d wanted us to exercise our free will to contribute to His world and bring His Presence into it. In that sense Chometz is not a negative force at all. In fact, it is the source of all accomplishment and positive action. However, when one becomes arrogant and forgets his place things can easily spiral out of control. He loses perspective of where his independence and achievements come from and he begins to take himself too seriously.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/25/10

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Dear Readers,

 

Though substantial space in this column over the last several months was devoted to the unsettling issue of disloyalty in a marriage, the tumult has hardly abated. The letter from a married man (back in February) painting himself as a self-seeking and gloating philanderer provoked a wide range of reactions.

 

Needless to say, not every letter to this column makes it into print. In this instance, however, we deem it necessary to highlight excerpts from some of the unpublished letters on this subject – in order to reveal the shocking mindsets of individuals who cheat on their spouses, as well as to highlight the viewpoints of concerned readers.

 

To be perfectly candid, some readers were fit to be tied over the exposure of Unfaithful‘s letter altogether, whereas countless other readers continue to express their castigation of the promiscuous writer and/or relief at having this delicate but pertinent-to-our-times issue finally brought to the fore.

 

The latter argue that this problem has become pandemic and, if met with indifference and left to fester, can chas v’sholom lead to devastating consequences for generations to come.

 

One reader wrote to say that “such disgusting articles” do not belong in an orthodox venue for “we are not to put ourselves in situations where we witness the street gutter just so we should know how to react to it when it knocks on our door we must distance ourselves from wickedness and cocoon ourselves within the framework of a life of Torah and good deeds.”

 

Equally adamant about preserving the sacredness of our heritage, a widely respected community elder has a different outlook: “It is very important that these problems not be swept under the carpet the general public needs to be informed of the critical dangers of these extra-marital flings.”

 

This prominent octogenarian expresses his fears for the future of his great-grandchildren and eloquently but forcefully speaks his mind. “Though only a miniscule number of our people are involved in this unfortunate way of life, we can nevertheless not keep silent about it. Let us learn from the few thousand of our brethren who circled the golden calf in the desert to the disregard of the many on the way to the Holy Land. The latter did not counter-demonstrate against the idol worshippers, and we have suffered through the ages as a result.”

 

Sadly, correspondence received by this column corroborates this gentleman’s view.

 

A woman claiming to be happily married, while at the same time lamenting her dissatisfaction with her husband, wrote: “I cheat on my spouse because I need to feel attractive and I want someone attractive.” In the same matter-of-fact tone used throughout her neatly handwritten letter, she went on to say, “I am a devoted parent just have an extracurricular activity going on in my free time. I am not even looking to get divorced just some well-deserved TLC.”

 

This woman also let it slip that her husband “is not around much.” (Could that be the secret to her “happy” marriage?)

 

A certified psychiatrist weighed in with his professional take. “Some people are more needy and/or more greedy than others. In other words, the problem may be with one person, not both if a person is ‘giving’ elsewhere, there will most likely be ‘less’ to ‘give’ at home.”

 

From another less-than-honorable spouse: “Midot aside and good providing aside, two people must connect physically when getting married or down the road someone is going to stray, or want to stray if they don’t have the guts. I have the guts.”

 

As if in assent, still another defiant reader declares: “I don’t cheat with many people, just one special someone who has the same issues as me This goes on under everyone’s nose. Don’t bother going on about it being under Hashem’s nose. The words are wasted on me.”

 

From a worried grandmother’s painfully revealing email: “The whole subject makes me uncomfortable, but I know it happens. I myself know of a case where there is a little girl who everyone thinks is the child of the parents. Can you imagine when she grows up ? No one will know her status.

 

Yes, dear readers, we can look the other way and hide our heads in the sand. Or, we can face reality about a subject that “makes us uncomfortable.” This column bills itself as “Chronicles of Crisis” – this concern not only qualifies as a crisis but can also lead to tragedy of epic proportions.

 

We are quickly approaching the 17th day of Tammuz that signals the start of the Three Weeks which culminates in Tisha B’Av. What better time to be reminded that G-d distanced Himself from His people when they failed to heed His directives

 

What better time to remember that we are all responsible for one another – Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Ba’zeh – and that to rebuke a fellow Jew is a mitzvah, whereas to act as though the clandestine carryings-on are non-existent is to wantonly allow them to gnaw away at the framework of our holy sanctuaries, G-d help us!

 

In this age of entitlement and greed, I would rather presume that some of our young people naïvely believe that “love conquers all” while foolishly justifying their illicit behavior with the misguided sentiment that “what s/he doesn’t know won’t hurt him/her.”

 

Regardless of reason or rationale, it is high time to indoctrinate all of our young adults with the “real rules and etiquette” for preserving the wholesomeness of our future generations. A good forum for this type of educational awareness: Chossen and Kallah classes, for starters.

 

The final redemption is in the hands of Hashem; the Torah is in ours. G-d gave us His word that He will redeem us and we gave Him our word that we will abide by the Torah. As we anxiously await the rebuilding of the holy Bais Hamikdash, should we not do our utmost to prove that we are worthy of the Geulah?

 

May that glorious day be upon us very soon!

* * * * *

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-257/2010/06/23/

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