In the past few days there have been several devastating terrorist attacks in Israel, Rachmana l’tzlan. Two of these attacks occurred in the Old City. One of them right near the Kotel HaMa’aravi, the holiest place on earth!
How can this happen? What is the message? Why now? Why there? I am not here to tell you I know the answers to why things happen. Our emunah dictates that we are not to ask these questions, for everything is perfectly plotted and fits into the greater picture and master plan, which we are unable to understand.
However, there are messages that we are intended to take from any and every tragedy. The Gemara in Yevamos 63a says that purpose of any tragedy, even when it has nothing to do with Jews, is ultimately for the Jews to take a lesson and better themselves. How much more so when the tragedy involves Jews. How much more so when the tragedy is right near the Makom HaMikdash. We must take heed and learn from these tragedies for that is definitely part of the reason they occurred.
We are about to celebrate the holiday of Chanukah. As I have previously explained, Chanukah is the “Elul” or preparation for the judgment day of Assara B’Teves when we are judged on whether the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuild or destroyed this year. As the Gemara tells us, any year the Beis HaMikdash was not built it is as if it was destroyed. This will be decided on Assara B’Teves. In order for us to develop a yearning for the Beis HaMikdash Hashem arranged for us to celebrate the holiday of Chanukah just days before the day of judgment.
How can Chanukah inspire us to yearn for the Beis HaMikdash? There are several ways. One way is through lighting the menorah commemorating the lighting of the Menorah that was lit in the Beis HaMikdash. Additionally, the celebration of Chanukah itself is commemorating the inauguration of the Beis HaMikdash, after it was defiled by the Greeks.
One of the goals of Chanukah is to bring us to a yearning and a deep desire for the Beis HaMikdash. As the Yalkut Shimoni (Shmuel 1:1) says that Yisrael will not be redeemed until they are mevakesh the following three things: malchus Shamayim, malchus Beis Dovid, and the building of the Beis HaMikdash.
The Bach in the beginning of Hilchos Chanukah says that the decree against the Jews in the time of Chanukah came about as a result of our being lax in the avodah in the Beis HaMikdash. When we are weak in our avodah, Hashem takes it away from us. The kohanim, who were the ones who perform the avodah, rectified this by being moser nefesh for the avodah. The avodah and the Beis HaMikdash were then returned to Klal Yisrael on Chanukah.
Although the Beis HaMikdash is not something for which one must give his life, the Chashmona’im were moser nefesh and fought to restore it. The reason for this was because they realized that the Beis HaMikdash was, as we say in the brachos of the haftorah, “bais chayenu, – the house of our lives” and without it we cannot live. We should realize how much we are lacking in our lives as a result of not having the Beis HaMikdash. The Torah is our lives, and the Torah comes from Tzion, as the pasuk says, “Ki m’tzion teitzei Torah u’dvar Hashem m’Yerushalayim.” Tosafos in Baba Basra 21a explains this pasuk to mean that when one would come to the Beis HaMikdash and witness kohanim performing the avodah, he would be tremendously inspired to be oveid Hashem and learn with more enthusiasm. How desperately are we in need of such a spiritually uplifting experience! How much laxity is there in our avodah and learning! This realization should be awaken our hearts to the desperate need that we have for the Beis HaMikdash. The inspiration that we receive from Chanukah should inspire us to daven and cry to Hashem for the Beis HaMikdash.
The intention of the Yevanim was to remove any kedushah and dveikus with Hashem in this world. The Chashmona’im understood that the only way to restore kedushah and deveikus with Hashem is if there is a place in the world that exists with complete purity. This was the Beis HaMikdash. From that nucleus kedushah can spread to the rest of the world.
The yesod of Chanukah is for us to realize that we are lacking a place that is completely pure which can serve as a light unto all the darkness that prevails in the world today. The Chashmona’im’s mesiras nefesh should give us the fire that we need to enable us to persevere through the long galus. This is the fire of Torah sheba’al peh, and the fire for the Beis HaMikdash. The Gemara in Baba Basra 4a says that the ohr of the Beis HaMikdash is the ohr of the Torah. This is because the Torah is the ohr of the Shechinah. The Yevanim tried to extinguish that ohr from this world, and failed.
Shortly before Chanukah Hashem has sent us a few reminders, don’t forget about the Beis HaMikdash. Don’t forget that your father is still without a home.
While lighting the candles of our menorah, which is the extension of the Menorah of the Mikdash, we hope to ignite this same blaze inside each one of us. On Chanukah we hope to develop a desire and a cheshek for the Beis HaMikdash. It is in this manner that Chanukah is the Elul of the yom hadin of Assara B’Teves. May we be zocheh through these preparations to receive a favorable judgment on Assara B’Teves and see the building of the Beis HaMikdash this year. Amen.