Thursday, August 07, 2008

Likutim on Tisha B'Av

Chazal[1] teach us that the Beis Hamikdash is considered as if it was destroyed in any generation in which it is not built. This implies that building is no more difficult than destroying. Why is this? It seems to fly in the face of experience and observation.

The Sfas Emes gives three answers to this question.

  1. Since there is a divine aspect to the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash, the act of building presents no hindrance. Therefore, in order for the Beis HaMikdash to be rebuilt we just need to reach a state at which the Beis HaMikdash would not be destroyed if it existed. That it is not being rebuilt yet, is a clear indication that it would be destroyed if it existed now.
  2. God wants the Beis HaMikdash to exist. It is the mechanism through which He reveals Himself in the physical world. The Beis HaMikdash was destroyed only because if it would have continued to exist, we would have suffered even more. Chazal tell us that God destroyed wood and stones instead of destroying us. This then is the only barrier preventing the Beis HaMikdash from being rebuilt. The moment it can exist at no danger to us, it will be rebuilt immediately. Since it is not being rebuilt, it must be that it would pose a danger to us if it existed, and would in fact be destroyed.
  3. It really is more difficult to rebuild than to destroy and it is possible to conceive of a generation during which the Beis HaMikdash would not have been destroyed but nevertheless cannot be rebuilt. However, the punishment of the Beis HaMikdash not being rebuilt is as severe as the destruction itself. The reason is that the experience of and the sadness caused by the destruction should provide us with sufficient extra strength and motivation to overcome any obstacle preventing rebuilding. The suffering that we experienced due to the destruction and its terrible consequences throughout our history should give us much more motivation to rebuild than the prophet’s exhortations to the nation to prevent the destruction in the first place. That it doesn’t is certainly a punishment as severe as the destruction itself.

This, it seems, is the reason that Chazal teach us that the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash was worse for the nation than the destruction of the first. At the time of the second destruction, we had already experienced the first destruction and its consequences. This, of itself, should have been enough to sufficiently motivate us to prevent the second destruction. That it did not is the reason Chazal say that the second destruction was worse for us. Failing to prevent the second destruction after having already experienced the first one is a much greater cause for consternation than the first destruction.

God will help us, in His compassion, for the honor of His name, and we will merit seeing the consolation of Tzion and Yerushalayim quickly in our times Amen, May it be His will!

[1] The Shela HaKadosh writes in Vavei Amudim 27 that he found this ma’amar Chazal in a Midrash. I have not found the Chazal.


Anonymous said...

“A generation that does not merit the building of the Beis HaMikdash is reckoned as if the generation destroyed it. Why? Because the people did not do teshuva.” (Yerushalmi Yoma, 1:1 (5a); Yalkut Shimoni Tehillim #137)

Moshe David Tokayer said...

Yashar Koi'ach!!