The Temple Institute: The Day After Tisha B'Av - What Now?



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The Day After Tisha B'Av - What Now?

August 8, 2003
2003 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

Lots of people seem to think that the Holy Temple will be rebuilt miraculously -- by G-d Himself. Although if taken literally, this concept is in diametric opposition to the most basic principles of Judaism (namely, that G-d commands us, and we fulfill -- not the other way around), still these people have no problem believing that a building of several million tons is going to fall from the sky.

We know that G-d certainly does make miracles happen, but only after we have already done all that we can for ourselves -- all that is humanly possible. After we show Him some sign of life, that we are interested -- then He steps in. Thus the Midrash declares, "Man must toil to produce results with his own two hands. Only then does G-d send His blessing."

Just as it's easier to continue mourning than it is to rise up and build, so too, it is much easier to wait for G-d to build the Temple. It really takes the pressure off of us -- when it is out of our hands, we are completely off the hook.

In Psalms 127 we read, "If the L-rd will not build the house, in vain do its builders labor on it; if the L-rd will not guard the city, is vain is the watchman vigilant." But what do these words mean? This is an apparent contradiction. After all it was King David's son Solomon who built the first Temple -- G-d did not build it. It certainly did not descend from Heaven, for the book of Kings I describes the building procedure, the manpower involved, the precious materials used, and even the amount of time it took: "the House was completed according to all its particulars and all its specifications; he built it over seven years" (Kings I 6:38). So what do these words of Psalms mean -- "If the L-rd will not build the house?" In the book of Kings we even find G-d Himself testifying to the fact that Solomon was the builder: "The word of G-d then came to Solomon, saying, This temple that you build -- if you follow My decrees, perform My statutes, and observe all My commandments, to follow them, I shall then uphold My word with you that I spoke to David your father. I shall dwell among the Children of Israel, and I shall not forsake My people Israel" (Kings I 6:11-13).

The answer is simple. Everything in life, all human effort and accomplishment, is a joint effort and partnership between man and G-d. All we can do is what we can, as human beings, with all our limitations. But G-d does not expect us to do any less than that. And once man has done his part, "with his own two hands, only then does G-d send His blessing." If G-d does not participate in our building by causing His presence to rest there, then "in vain to its builders labor on it." But He assures us that if we follow His commandments, then "I shall dwell among the Children of Israel."

This Shabbat is called the "Sabbath of Consolation." We will recite the words of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 40:

"Comfort, comfort My people, says your G-d. Speak consolingly of Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her period of exile has been completed, that her iniquity has been forgiven; for she has received double for all her sins from the hand of G-d.

A voice calls out in the wilderness, 'Clear the way of G-d, make a straight path in the desert, a road for our G-d'..."

The voice is heard even now, in the midst of the spiritual wilderness, but not everyone chooses to hear it. For hearing that voice means accepting responsibility. Those that do hear it are beginning to clear the way.

Rabbi Chaim Richman

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500



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