The Temple Institute: The Time of Redemption



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The Time of Redemption

July 17, 2002
2002 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

Tonight is Tisha B'Av, the solemn fast day when all of Israel mourns for the Holy Temple, twice destroyed on this day. But the destruction is not ancient history, and the theme is as relevant as ever we will also recall our own modern-day, continuous Temple destruction, that has been perpetrated by Moslem Wakf authorities for almost two years now. While the Temple Mount remains closed to Jews, artifacts from the Mount have been systematically destroyed during this period and the character of the site has been irrevocably damaged. No Jews have been allowed to supervise the illegal Islamic activity at the one site holy to the Jewish people and the one site in Israel where Jewish prayer is forbidden. As we ponder the implications of the First and Second Temple's destruction, we can also wonder as to the meaning of our own inexplicable silence in the face of the Temple Mount being ripped asunder and violated by strangers before our very eyes. "Because of the mountain of Zion which is desolate; foxes prowl over it" (Lamentations 5:18).

Israel's suffering is also as relevant today as it was when Jeremiah grieved, "For these, for these I weep, my eye, my eye runs down with water... my children are desolate, because the enemy has prevailed" (ibid. 1:16). To the list of the hundreds of Jews that have been murdered in cold blood over the past two years, we can add more destroyed families. The victims of yesterday's brutal terror attack at Emmanuel... and Los Angeles... and Toronto...

The scroll of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah, describes the destruction of the Temple and Israel's suffering and exile. But in the midst of verses describing this suffering, we read these words (6:21-22) "This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope that the L-rd's steadfast love has not ceased, and that His compassions do not fail."

What is the "this" that Jeremiah calls to mind? The Midrash relates the secret of this verse "Rabbi Abba bar Cahana taught in the name of Rabbi Yochanan This can be likened to the following parable A great king married a noble woman and wrote her a generous marriage contract. He wrote, 'I promise you so and so many homes, so and so many fine treasures.' Then the king departed from her and traveled abroad. He was much delayed in his return, and remained away for a seemingly interminable time.

The woman's neighbors paid her frequent visits, scoffing and chiding her. They would say 'Your husband, the King, has left you for good! He's gone off somewhere across the sea, and he's never coming back!'

She would cry and groan with anguish. But entering her room, she would open her box and fondly gaze upon the marriage contract that her husband wrote for her. She read, 'I promise you so and so many homes, so and so many fine treasures...' and she would again be consoled.

Eventually the King returned. 'My child,' he exclaimed, 'I am amazed at how you were able to wait for me all those years!'

'Sir,' she responded, 'were it not for the generous marriage contract that you wrote and presented to me, the taunts of the neighbor women would have destroyed me.'

So it is with Israel. The nations torment her and say to her, 'Your G-d has hidden His face from you, and has caused His presence to depart; He is never returning to you.' Israel cries and groans, but then they enter into the synagogues and houses of study and read in the Torah:

'For I will turn myself to you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish My covenant with you... And I will set My tabernacle among you... And I will walk among you, and will be your G-d, and you shall be My people' (Lev. 26:9-12).

And then they are consoled.

The Midrash continues, ''Tomorrow, when the time of the Redemption arrives, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to Israel, 'My children! I am amazed at how you were able to wait for me all those years!' And Israel responds before Him, 'Master of the Universe, were it not for the Torah you gave us, the taunts of the nations would have destroyed us.'

This is the meaning of the words, 'this I recall to my mind''this' is the Torah, as it is written, 'And this is the Torah which Moses set before the Children of Israel' (Deut. 4:44). As King David wrote in Psalms (119:92), 'Were it not for your Torah, my delight, I would have been lost in my misery.'

So it is with us today, as we await the King in Jerusalem and gaze into our marriage contract, knowing that the Redemption draws closer, knowing that His amazement will make all the waiting worthwhile.

With blessings for the Rebuilding of the Holy Temple and the Complete Redemption,

Rabbi Chaim Richman

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500



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