“Upon[FP1] what [sin] was the land destroyed?” (Yirmiyahu 9:11)
“It’s a decree upon the deceased that he will be forgotten from the heart.” (Pesachim 54b)
When a person dies, Hashem decrees that the memory of the person slowly fades as time elapses. This allows the intensity of the pain to ease. We see this principle from Yaakov Avinu, who mourned Yosef for 22 years. The inconsolable nature of his mourning was proof that Yosef was still alive, for a dead person is eventually forgotten. (Rav Chaim Friedlander, Sifsei Chaim)
Napoleon Bonaparte believed that contented soldiers breed a successful army. Thus, he was bothered when he saw one of his young soldiers sitting on the dusty earth and weeping bitterly. Napoleon graciously offered his personal assistance, but to his astonishment, the soldier politely rebuffed his offer. “General, you cannot possibly help me, for I am mourning the destruction of myTemple.”
The general scratched his head, trying to recollect when this national calamity had occurred and why it had not been called to his attention.
The mourning Jew explained, “Our House of G-d was destroyed nearly two thousand years ago.”
“Two thousand years, and you’re still weeping?” the general cried in astonishment. “Listen to me, soldier,” Bonaparte said with confidence, “If you’re still mourning your Temple after two thousand years, then I have no doubt that it’ll be rebuilt one day!”
“For two thousand years, we’ve mourned the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash; this inconsolable pain is also our comfort. The fact that the pain is still fresh proves that Yerushalayim was never not forgotten. Rather, the more we mourn, the more our connection to the Shechinah is strengthened. Every year, we intensify our bond to the Beis HaMikdash, thereby promoting its restoration.
Yet, in order to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash, we must first discover the reason for its destruction.
The Gemara (Nedarim 81a) discusses the chachamim’s uncertainty as to what was the root of sin that caused the destruction, until Hashem clarified, “Because they abandoned My Torah.” Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav, “They did not first bless the Torah.…”
We remain with a question: Why was the root of sin so concealed that only Hashem could reveal it?
The Sages could not define the root of the Churban since on the surface level, it appeared that the generation was very learned in Torah. Yet, Hashem explained that the Torah was not valuable enough to them to bless.
The Bach elaborates: They did not learn Torah in order to come closer to Hashem.
Since they did not desire closeness to Hashem via Torah, they no longer required the Beis HaMikdash, which was a tangible presence of this bond.
Klal Yisrael in the period of the Churban was well-versed in Torah, yet they approached its study without emotional attachment. It was knowledge, albeit brilliant, but not practical. A subject any university student might study for a degree.
But Torah is sacred! Learning Torah ignites a fiery flame that forges an unparalleled connection to Hashem. The disinterest in this connection is what Bnei Yisrael lacked. Without spiritual goals, there was no need for a Home that was a physical manifestation of these aspirations.
“However, when there’s no physical Beis HaMikdash, it’s even more challenging to connect to Hashem. What will inspire us?
Sadness and depression are rampant in this age of spiritual holocaust.
Yet how can we surmount these difficulties when theTempleMountinside us still lies desolate, and little foxes of confusion frolic within us?
Though the Templewas destroyed, there’s still one tool that is capable of connecting man to Hashem — prayer. Prayer took the place of korbanos. When we appeal to Hashem, “Blessed are You,” this elevates man to connect with the Shechinah.
Daven! Don’t mutter the words. Don’t recite them by heart. Daven. When saying the words, Baruch Atah Hashem, focus on the word Atah — You! Hashem is in front of me. His presence dwells within the walls of my home as soon as I invite Him in.
A little room has been carved in my heart, a place where my own Beis HaMikdash stands tall and proud. All my surroundings may lay in ruins, but my heartfelt prayer is the key to redemption.