From the first day of Elul, when we begin reciting Psalm 27, ("The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?"), and blowing the shofar each morning, to the last day of the holiday season, (Shmini Atzeret - Simchat Torah), is a total of fifty one days. We begin our spiritual preparations in Elul. On Rosh Hashana we stand before the Creator and recognize His sovereignty. On Yom Kippur we confess our sins before G-d and ask for His forgiveness. For the seven days of Sukkot we dwell in the sukkah, enveloped by the Holy Shechinah - the presence of HaShem. Finally, on Shmini Atzeret - Simchat Torah we dance joyfully with the Sefer Torah as we read the conclusion of the book of Devarim - Deuteronomy - and begin reading from the book of Bereshith - Genesis. But what about the day after, the fifty second day? Are we in for a big let down? What is to become of all the spiritual energy generated? Are we to fall from our heightened perches?
The answer is no, at least if we have been sincere in our endeavors and determined in our efforts to bring ourselves closer to Hashem, and closer to the person that He intended for us to be. The festival of Sukkot, also known as the festival of the harvest, is a time for filling our storehouses with the fruits of our spiritual labors over the past year, and especially over the past fifty one days. By the time we leave our Sukkot and return to our permanent house on Shmini Atzeret, it is not the same house that we left only one week ago. For while we have been dwelling in the Divine embrace of the sukkah, G-d has, as it were, been fixing what is broken in our house. And this new, improved spiritual environment that G-d has fashioned for us, based on our own spiritual efforts and accomplishments, is ours to grow in for the coming year. The day after Shmini Atzeret is not the end of the cycle, but only the beginning. Spiritually refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated we reenter our day-to-day lives on a much higher level than we were just fifty two days ago. It is this new level of invigoration that fuels us as of this moment.
The holiday season has also been marked by much activity on and around the Temple Mount. Each day of the intermediary days of Sukkot hundreds of Jews went up to the Temple Mount, in strict accordance with Jewish halachic law. Tens of thousands of Jews from around Israel, and around the world, all gathered on the second intermediary day of Sukkot, at the Western Wall plaza at the foot of the Temple Mount, to hear the Priestly blessing, as in the days of the Holy Temple.
But other forces, not so positive, have also been afoot. The Jordanian monarch decided that the time has come to add yet a fifth Moslem minaret to the Temple Mount. And the secular government of Israel, apparently unaware of its own sovereignty over the Temple Mount,... agreed. What does this mean for us? And what can we do about it?
Listen to this week's lively edition of TEMPLE TALK, as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss all these issues, and more.
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