Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The initial reaction that most people had to the horrific news of last week’s events in Meron was the same as Aharon Hakoen’s after his two sons died; namely Vayeidom Aharon – and Aharon was silent (Vayikra 10:3). But I would like to share with you a Chasam Sofer.

It is known that the Chasam Sofer remarked about a devastating earthquake that destroyed most of Tzfas in the year 1837. He said the earthquake was a consequence of the jealousy of Yerushalayim. In Yerushalayim is the gate to Shamayim, in it is Har HaMoriah, the site where the Beis Hamikdash stood. In Yerushalayim there is the hill that all mouths turn to in prayer. The Shechinah never departed from the Kosel Hamaravi. Said the Chasam Sofer, for close to a hundred years, people have entirely turned to Tzfat, to the kever of the man of God the Rashbi in Meron; the Ari in Tzfas. Those who make aliyah to Israel look only to Tzfat and Tiveriah, and Yerushalayim is completely forgotten, so Jerusalem avenged its honor, so to speak.

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I was thinking about these words of the Chasam Sofer and thought how this might be connected to the recent tragedy in Meiron.

For more than a year there have not been any mass gatherings in Eretz Yisrael, or anywhere for the most part. Recently the restrictions have been relaxed. Where is the first mass gathering where tens of thousands of Yidden, bnei yeshivos, Chasidim, and all walks of Judaism joined together? Meron. Not at the site where the Beis Hamikdash stood and will stand, not by the Kosel Hamaravi, the place where Shechinah never departed from, but elsewhere in distant Meron.

There is nothing wrong with going to Meron, and davening by kivrei tzadikim, and surely by the Tannah Rabi Shimon bar Yochai. But there is a special power that all beginnings have. The first of everything possesses a strong ability to define what follows. We find Noach was demoted from a Tzadik to an ish ha’adamah, when he chose to plant a vineyard immediately after the mabul. There is nothing wrong with planting a vineyard but if it the first thing that one does it defines him as an ish ha’adamah (Beraishis9:20). The siddur HaGra points out that the first tefilla that we recite after brachos in the morning is “shetargelenu bisorasecha” This is because every morning is a new beginning and a new start, and we want that the first thought, the first tefilla, that first request that we make of Hakadosh Baruch Hu, to be for helping us in Torah.

There are many other examples where we find the importance of firsts and beginnings, but in this circumstance the one thought that came to mind was that the first mass gathering where Klal Yisrael joins one another in an atmosphere of spiritual growth should be by the makom hamikdash where we can beseech Hashem to return the Beis Hamikdash that we so desperately need.

In Shmuel Beis (24:1) the Navi tells us of tzaros that befell the Jewish people. Rashi there says he does not know why we suffered those tzaros. The Ramban in Parshas Korach (16:21) writes that the reason that there was a charon af against Klal Yisrael at one point in Dovid Hamelch’s reign was because they prolonged the building of the Beis Hamikdash. In other words no one was bothered that there was no Beis Hamikdash. Until Dovid Hamelch said, “I am sitting in a grand palace, and the Aron has no place.” Dovid Hamelech had desire and as a result the Beis Hamikdash was built. Says the Ramban, “If Klal Yisrael would have wanted and been nesorrer for the Beis Hamikdash earlier, it would have been built earlier by Klal Yisrael, not by Dovid and Shlomo, and there would not have been anger against them and they would not have suffered those tzaros.”

On a Klal level we are still guilty of the same thing. We have forsaken Yerushalayim, and the Beis Hamikdash, and as we have seen throughout history his is a recipe for disaster. As Dovid Hamelch famously wrote in Tehillim (137) If I forget you Yerushalayim, let my right hand forget its skill. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you; if I don’t set Yerushalayim above my highest joy.

May we all come together and beseech our Father to return the Beis Hamikdash, where we will all gather once again and rejoice in its courtyards basking in the presence of the open display of the Shechina, Amen.

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Rabbi Fuchs learned in Yeshivas Toras Moshe, where he became a close talmid of Rav Michel Shurkin, shlit”a. While he was there he received semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlit”a. He then learned in Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and became a close talmid of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l. Rabbi Fuchs received semicha from the Mirrer Yeshiva as well. After Rav Shmuel’s petira Rabbi Fuchs learned in Bais Hatalmud Kollel for six years. He is currently a Shoel Umaishiv in Yeshivas Beis Meir in Lakewood, and a Torah editor and weekly columnist at The Jewish Press.