Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The 9th of Av

"Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there."
(Zechariah 8:4-5)

Menachem Av 8, 5769/ July 29, 2009

It is a basic tenet of Torah study that, "there is no chronological order in Torah," or literally, that there is no "before" and "after." It is the exclusive prerogative of the Torah itself to determine the order of its own narrative, and it is the challenge, responsibility and great privilege of Torah scholars and students alike, to learn out from this what the Torah is intending to impart.

Tonight begins the twenty-five hour fast of Tish'a b'Av, (the ninth of Av), commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temples. Here in Israel, even before the sun sets and the fast day officially begins, tens of thousands of Jews will begin streaming into the Western Wall Plaza. From the four corners of the land of Israel they will arrive and congregate together in the shadow of the place of the Holy Temple. Many will stay for the twenty-five hour duration. Others will pay what they feel to be an essential visit to the site and then move on. By the time the fast ends with the appearance of the stars in the Thursday evening sky, hundreds of thousands will have passed along the western wall of the Temple Mount complex.

A stranger from another planet, or even from another country, could be excused if, upon witnessing what transpires, expressed utter bewilderment: The white bearded elderly arrive, often carrying a mattress to stay the night. Young men and children arrive. Women and girls arrive, some in the modest dress indicative of their religious upbringing, others in the latest fashions. Infants in buggies, perhaps their first trip to the wall. Young men in kippot, other with jell and spiked hair. Kids with piercings and kids with tattoos. Religious men with broad hats, others donning the cardboard yarmulkes which can be obtained at the Wall. Groups of men and groups of women sitting upon the ground are wailing in lament. Boys are high-fiving, girls are embracing. Young people are talking excitedly, laughing, not having seen one another for months or years, this one in the army, that one at university. One great cacophonous mass of Jewish humanity together in the shadow of the Holy Temple, where the heavens greet the earth, where G-d's presence, the shechinah, shines forth touching all humanity.

How can this be our visitor enquires? Are you people not mourning for your Holy Temple? Shouldn't your mood be somber, shouldn't your voices be hushed?

Every Jew is taught, and imbibes with his mother's milk, that Tish'a b'Av, the sorrowful day of our nations greatest calamities, will someday be celebrated with unbridled joy, when the Holy Temple is standing once again in its place upon the holy mount. There is no "before" and "after" in Torah. And in the life of the nation of Israel, as perceived in the light of the truth of Torah, and the destiny and destination assigned to this people, there is certainly no "before" and there is certainly no "after!" The kids, the younger generation assembling and greeting one another at the gates to the Holy Temple, for them the future has arrived, the Holy Temple is within their grasp, it is so close! The old folks? They, too, are part of the Torah time warp. They wail with great heartfelt emotion, but they too know in their heart of hearts that the day of the Holy Temple is drawing near.

Our perplexed guest can be excused if, from within this sea of unity and good will, he cries out in consternation, "But where is the gratuitous love that your sages say must precede the building of the Holy Temple?" It swarms and pulsates all around him!

Our guest can be excused if he points to the mosque that sits on the southern extremity of the Mount, or to the Dome of the Rock that is perched upon the site of the Holy of Holies, and expounds, "The reality has changed, the Holy Temple can no longer be!" But it is only the mosque that crowds his spirit, and the Dome that covers his heart that form an obstacle to the will of G-d from becoming manifest, to the pure energy of this people from maintaining its course!

"Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there." (Zechariah 8:4-5)

Yes, the old men uttering lamentations, and the boys and girls who gather at nightfall on the 9th, and with joy and with laughter will greet the new dawn, together they are the living words of the prophet. Shoulder to shoulder, and with one heart, the Holy Temple will be rebuilt.

Tune in to the week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven get honest about the 9th of Av. Why are we still mourning? Back in the land of Israel after 2000 years of exile can we afford to let ourselves simply mourn the loss of the Holy Temple, year after year? Moses saw it crystal clear over 3000 years ago: the Jew, every Jew, belongs in the land of Israel. The Jew in the land, the Jew who has truly returned, will rise up and build the Holy Temple. It's time to let the exile go, from our hearts and from our souls, and attach ourselves to the Torah of the land of Israel.

DARE TO DREAM/DARE TO BUILD: Are we ready to put an end to the mourning forever? The real people of Israel are ready, and poised in their hearts to rise up and build the Holy Temple. Obama may be calling for a building freeze in Jerusalem, but the Jewish heart is burning to build! But don't take our word for it. If you haven't yet viewed our 2-minute inspirational video, then, by all means, do so now!

Building a Holy Temple begins with the first stone. With this in mind, the Temple Institute has embarked upon building the mizbeach - the stone altar. Stones have been gathered from an area of the Dead Sea, where it can be safely verified that no metal tool has ever touched the stones' surfaces. The altar is being constructed on Tish'a b'Av, the day that the nation of Israel fasts in commemoration of the destruction of the first and second Holy Temple. Observing the fast day does not preclude making preparations for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. On the contrary, there is no better occasion than the 9th of Av for building the altar upon which the Divine service will be renewed. Click here to learn more.

IBA News Interview: Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute talks about the 9th of Av, the Holy Temple, its importance to the entire world, and the moral and spiritual imperative to build the Temple now! Click here to view.

This week features the latest Bat Melech video teaching with Rabbanit Rena Richman, entitled, "KING DAVID & BATSHEVA, PART I: King David, the slayer of Goliath, the champion of Israel, the man who laid the foundations of the Holy Temple, and the father of Moshiach, made the mistake of his life when he attempted to summarily dispatch Uriah, the husband of Batsheva. But it was this mistake when led him to become the master of repentance, and made him a figure that would span the millennia." Click here to view.

Thursday, July 30th, (9th Av), also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled,"ALL ABOUT AV, PART II: Will We Mourn Forever? The beautiful month of Menachem Av - the month of the Comforting Father begins with rebuke and crescendos with consolation, carrying us from the bitter to the sweet. The month of Av, full of a calamitous past, and bursting with potential for a glorious future. It's all in how we see it, learn from it, and are willing to invest of ourselves in it." Click here to view.

Moses prays 515 prayers beseeching G-d to allow him in the promised land of Israel. Simply to see “this good mountain and the Lebanon,” (Deuteronomy 3:25), that is, Jerusalem and the Holy Temple, this is all that Moses desires. Just to experience the land of Israel firsthand, even in the form of a bird sailing in the sky. But, alas, it was not to be. Today, every Jew can fulfill the dream of Moses, and by doing so, bring this people closer to its destiny. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Ve’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11).

Blessings from Jerusalem,
Yitzchak Reuven
PO Box 31876
Jerusalem, Israel 97500

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