We Are the Generation of the Third Temple
"But you that cleave unto HaShem your G-d are alive every one of you this day."
The Torah reading of Shlach (Numbers 13:1-15:41) relates the episode of the twelve spies, hand picked by Moshe rabbeinu - Moses our master, who returned from a forty day sojourn in the land of Israel laden with wonderful fruits attesting to the beauty and bounty of the land, only to shatter the people's will by stating that all evidence pointed to the land being unconquerable. The people, for despairing of G-d's promise, were handed a Divine punishment: they would all die in the desert. Only their children would merit the triumphant entering and conquest of the land of Israel. The day of this decree: the ninth ofAv.
Further, Midrash tells us that G-d rebuked the Israelites, saying "since you have cried over nothing, this day, the ninth ofAv will prove in time to be a day of real anguish for the Jewish nation." And so it is that both the first Holy Temple and the second were destroyed by our enemies on the ninth day ofAv - Tish'a b'Av. Subsequent Jewish history has been plagued by disasters of existential proportion on the ninth ofAv.
According to Midrash, every year following the debacle of the spies, on the ninth ofAv, all the Israelite men would dig their own graves and lie down in them. The following morning only those who had escaped the decree for one more year climbed up out of their graves. For thirty nine years this grim ceremony repeated itself each year on the ninth ofAv. In the fortieth year of the wanderings of the Jews through the desert, the Israelite men, on the ninth ofAv, once again dug their own graves and lay down within them. The following morning each and every man who had entered his own grave emerged alive. Their punishment was over. All those still alive on the tenth ofAv would be counted among those who would enter the promised land. Still not convinced, and concerned that they may have simply misread the calendar, the men proceeded to reenter their graves each night for an entire week. On the night of the fifteen, Tu b'Av, when the moon was full, and all doubt that the Divine retribution had run its course was dispelled, the people celebrated.
What a difference a week makes. From resignation and despair, to celebration and a renewed sense of determination; determination to fulfill the historical task you have been assigned.
The ninth of Av, and the three weeks of mourning leading up to it, are the culmination of the frustration and disappointment of yet another year gone by and still we have not begun the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, the historical task assigned us. Tonight, the ninth, we fast. In a way, we have dug our own graves and are going to lay down in them tonight. After all, should our fate be any different than the generation of the desert who despaired of G-d's promise? And we who arise tomorrow night from our fast, and from our self-dug graves of despair, we should spend the next seven days looking deeply at ourselves, and at each other, and by full moon draw the solemn and unshakable conclusion that we, just like the generation that entered into the land to conquer and settle it, we are the generation of the third Temple. No self doubt will stop us. No nation will deny us. We the living will build for G-d a sanctuary, that He may dwell among us.
Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK, and join Yitzchak Reuven and Rabbi Richman as they discuss Tish'a b'Av - the ninth of Av, current happenings on the Temple Mount, and the opening chapters of the book of Devarim, Deuteronomy.
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