The Talmud states that Hashem, so to speak, cries privately over the destruction of the Temple. Maharal writes that the secret hideaway where G-d cries is situated within the soul of every Jew. For the soul emanates from the Creator and is hidden deep inside man.
A Jew’s soul cries incessantly over the Destruction of the Temple. It weeps without letup for all that has been lost. But why is it not detected? The Chassidic master, Reb Bunim of P’shis’cha offered a parable. Once there was a king that amassed fantastic treasures which he hid in a secret hideaway deep under his palace. One day a great fire broke out in the capital. It spread quickly, burning down the palace, as well as the hideaway that contained the treasures. A great wave of mourning swept over the nation and they cried for all that had lost. But the king cried most bitterly of all. Only he knew about the fantastic treasures that had been destroyed.
Like the countrymen, we cry for the Beis Hamikdash. Our souls, however, cry most of all. Deep in the recesses of our soul, beyond what ordinary men can detect, we exhibit a clearer recognition. And while it may not be easily detectable, on Tisha B’av that cry rises and expresses itself in a way that is tangible even for ordinary human beings.
The Temple unified the Jewish nation. Like the heart of man, it pumped the vitality of the people that coursed through their veins, offering a connection to spirituality far beyond our ability to imagine. While we will forever endure, we exist in a crippled state. Today, Jerusalem is a sprawling city, home to tens of thousands of Jews, Torah institutions, and prayer. But it’s most vital organ is missing.
Yet, although we cry for what we once had, we weep mostly for the future. The following story illustrates why.
The great Rama, Rabbi Moshe Isserles, writes that the Greek philosopher Plato accompanied Nebuchadnezzar when he came to destroy the First Temple. After the destruction, Plato found the prophet Jeremiah weeping bitterly near the Temple ruins. Plato asked Jeremiah two questions. First, how could such an eminent man cry so bitterly over sticks and stone and besides, the Temple already burned down? What benefit is there to tears?
At this point, Jeremiah asked Plato about some of his most vexing philosophical questions. The great philosopher listed off some thorny problems, which Jeremiah answered with ease. Shocked, Plato exclaimed, “I cannot imagine that a mere mortal can be so wise!”
Jeremiah then said that all his knowledge emanated from those “sticks and stones”, which explained why Jeremiah was crying so bitterly. However, Jeremiah said that he could not answer why tears are beneficial after the fact. Plato would not understand.
Some suggest that Jeremiah wouldn’t answer why he still cried because Plato could never understand. Our tears aren’t just for the past; we cry for the future. While the heavenly gates were sealed off since the destruction, the gate of tears remains. Every tear ascends heavenward and is collected and contributes toward the reconstruction of the final and everlasting Temple. This is a belief that rational Plato could never comprehend, as it defied logic. As such, Jeremiah left the question unanswered.