Friday, July 12, 2013
Chazal teach that the Beis HaMikdash is considered to have been destroyed in every generation in which it is not rebuilt. This is difficult to understand. There have been many generations during which lived great tzaddikim. Are Chazal telling us that the Beis HaMikdash would have been destroyed in these generations as well? Furthermore, are we to understand then, that the generation in which the Beis HaMikdash is rebuilt (we pray this is ours!) will have more merit than all the generations since the destruction, enough to warrant the rebuilding? This is certainly a difficult position to maintain. What, then, are Chazal really teaching us?
The Sfas Emes explains that we cannot take this Chazal at face value. Rather, Chazal are teaching us that the merits of each generation are aggregated. Each generation helps in the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. In spiritual terms, the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash began after its destruction and continues to this day. For this reason the following pasuk is in present tense, “בּוֹנֵה יְרוּשָׁלַם ה' .../God builds Yerushalayim …” (Tehillim 147:2)
There may have been particularly backward generations with poor merit that have not helped in the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. These are the generations to which Chazal are referring. Since these generations have not helped in the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, it follows that they are considered to have destroyed it. However, we can safely say that most generations have had sufficient merit to help.
This notion applies not only on a generational level. It applies to each of us individually as well. We each have the ability to help build the Beis HaMikdash through our actions. To the extent that we accept upon ourselves the yoke of heaven, we are helping to build the Beis HaMikdash. Chazal, alluding to this idea, teach us that everybody helps with the building of the Beis HaMikdash. May we merit helping to build the Beis HaMikdash and may we merit seeing it manifest physically this year!