Why Are We Mourning?

Once again we are in the midst of mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh. We still haven‘t merited, that the Beis Hamikdosh be rebuilt. We are still in Galus and we grieve.

Our mourning during these days is not about something in the past. We are not weeping over what has destroyed nearly 2000 years ago. We are lamenting over our current situation – over the fact that we are so distant from any level of kedusha. We weep over the fact that we feel that it seems, that we possess no way, with which to draw closer to genuine avodas Hashem. , and over the fact that we are lacking the influence of kedusha and of material abundance which come from Above via the Beis Hamikdosh, and over the suffering of the Galus.

Only a fool, who has no understanding, about the Bais Hamikdosh thinks that we are bemoaning the past, and something which we lost so long ago. Only a fool will wonder why our rabbonim are so stringent, and placed so many restrictions regarding such an ancient calamity, which is so distant from our awareness. However, someone who thinks a little, knows that our pain focuses on our current situation, which stems from the absence of the source of kedusha which influenced the entire world – the Beis Hamikdosh.In his unique picturesque language, the well-known Yerushalmi maggid, Harav Shabsi Yudelevits described an event that he personally had witnessed. Once on a Tisha Ba‘av night he sat on the ground in a Yerushalmi shul with a few hundred other Jews.

The shul was nearly dark, and they grieved over the sorrow of the long Galus. Suddenly, a group of tourists entered and stared at the congregation with a total lack of comprehension. When Rav Shabsi saw their bewilderment he approached them and began to explain in clear language, the reason for the mourning, and that we were weeping over the Beis Hamikdosh which had gone up in flames. After speaking for a long time, he saw that they still didn‘t understand his point. He decided to explain the matter in a more simple language, saying: “We had a large and elaborate Temple where all the Jews gathered. It was peerless in its grandeur, and burned on this date to the ground.

In his unique picturesque language, the well-known Yerushalmi maggid, Harav Shabsi Yudelevits described an event that he personally had witnessed. Once on a Tisha Ba‘av night he sat on the ground in a Yerushalmi shul with a few hundred other Jews. The shul was nearly dark, and they grieved over the sorrow of the long Galus.

Suddenly, a group of tourists entered and stared at the congregation with a total lack of comprehension. When Rav Shabsi saw their bewilderment he approached them and began to explain in clear language, the reason for the mourning, and that we were weeping over the Beis Hamikdosh which had gone up in flames. After speaking for a long time, he saw that they still didn‘t understand his point. He decided to explain the matter in a more simple language, saying: “We had a large and elaborate Temple where all the Jews gathered. It was peerless in its grandeur, and burned on this date to the ground.

A bit of understanding flickered in their eyes, and they asked with interest when that occurred? “Nearly 2000 years ago,” Harav Shabsi replied, “but we still feel its absence.”

“Aha,” one of the tourists exclaimed. “An impressive and large Temple. That‘s something worth grieving over.”

Suddenly one of the group asked Harav Shabsi: “Was this beautiful Temple insured by an insurance company?”

“No,” Rav Shabsi replied.

“That‘s truly a great loss. Tell your friends that the next time they build such a Temple they should not forget to insure it.”

Unfortunately, this story isn‘t a mere parable. Many people don‘t internalize the reason for the mourning in our time. They don‘t feel connected. From their standpoint, the Destruction is something which occurred in the distant past, and is not worth grieving over any more. What bothers them is the price of groceries which has risen or the increase in rent, but not the topic of the Beis Hamikdosh. All this shows the extent to which we must mourn over the Destruction, and realize that it is so deep a matter that we simply don‘t perceive its meaning.

The Shulchan Aruch rules that every Yerai Shomayim should grieve over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh. The Chiddushei Harim asks what about someone who isn‘t a Yerai Shomayim? He replied: “One who isn‘t a yerai Shomayim should grieve over his own personal destruction.”

Our personal destruction is that we don‘t know the meaning of a life which is linked to kedusha, and which draws immensely from the code of Jewish law.

Seforim kedoshim write that the destruction had no effect on Shabbos. This is because the kedusha of Shabbos is so holy that everyone can connect to it. Precisely because we feel so far from kedusha that is why we exert ourselves to connect to Shabbos, so we can be connected to kedusha.

It is achieved by adding kedusha to the mundane from the sacred at the beginning of Shabbos (Tosefos Shabbos) and the detracting from the mundane at the end of Shabbos and then by the additional engaging in matters of kedusha during Shabbos, even during the long and warm days of this season.

(Rav Binyomin Adler-Shabbos Taam Hachaim)