Siftei Chaim – Mourning for the Destruction…

July 19, 2006

This entire post is simply a translation from Siftei Chaim vol. 3 pg. 284 by Rabbi Chaim Freidlander

And when the builders laid the foundation of the Temple of hashem, they set the priests in their clothing with trumpets, and the Levites in their clothing with cymbals, to praise hashemin the manner of David, the king of Israel.  And they responded with Hallel in praising and giving thanks to hashem, because the foundation of the House of hashemwas laid.  But many of the priests and the Levites and the chiefs of the father’s houses, old men who had seen the first Temple; when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; but many shouted aloud for joy.  So much that people could not distinguish the sound of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard from afar.

Ezra, Chapter 3 verses 10 – 13

At the establishment of the second Temple there was a very strange phenomena.  On the one hand the youth who did not remember or recognize the first Temple in its glory, for seventy years had already passed since its destruction, blasted with joy the sounds of the terua (Shofar) upon the establishment of the House of hashem.  On the other hand there stood the elders, who had merited to see the first Temple in its glory.  Not only did the elders not participate in the celebration, rather they cried out in full voice, until their cries drowned out the sounds of the celebration.

The structure of the second Temple was almost the same as the first Temple.  There were only five things missing in the second Temple – and one of them was the indwelling of the divine presence!  This is the essential difference between the time of the first Temple and the time of the second Temple.  Those who had meritted seeing and understanding the indwelling of the divine presence in the first Temple, they understand well the meaning of the destruction.  Such that even if they in fact merited the building of a second Temple, but it was missing the divine presence, they none the less continued to mourn the destruction of the first Temple for that lacking.  But those who never merited to witness the first Temple, could not begin to understand the tears, once they had merited to build the second Temple.

We, because of our great sins, mourn the loss of two Temples: the first and the second.  However, it is difficult to cry or to truly understand the meaning of the destruction.  We do not understand at all what was lost, we lack the knowledge and understanding of the regular situation of the Jewish People in their glory, for we never saw or understood it.  The opposite is true, amongst our sins is that we feel that things are good, despite all of the suffering that surrounds us, as though we are not missing anything – not physically nor spiritually.  This feeling is what prevents us from truly mourning the destruction as we ought to, since we can not really feel what is missing.  Therefore we are obligated to learn and understand the inner meaning of the destruction, to feel and know the lowliness of our situation and our station from the destruction until now.


Parashat Pinchas

July 13, 2006

There is one section of this week’s parasha that we read from on every Jewish Holiday.  It contains a list of the additional sacrifices (korbanei musaf) for Shabbat, Rosh hodesh, Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, Rosh ha-Shana and Yom Kippur.  It is often the case that we overlook lists in the Torah, yet they can have much to teach us.

Rabbi Menachem Liebtag has a great chart which helps to understand this chapter.  

Reb Menachem’s website is always worth a peak when you are interesting in understanding the parshah.                              

Edgar Allen Poe and the 17th of Tammuz

July 13, 2006

Check out the following two blogs: On the main line & Seforim for a fascinating discussion of a short piece by Edgar Allen Poe called Tale of JerusalemHere is a literary analysis of the story – look at the first footnote for where Poe may have found the story.  Here is a link to the original text of the Yerushalmi that Poe seems to be quoting.

Fasting Today

July 13, 2006

It has been pointed out to me by my friend and colleague, Rabbi Barry Gelman that given the present situation in Israel, even according to Rabbenu Chananel’s understanding we may be required to fast.

In peacetime, that is, as long as the
Temple exists, the fast days will be times of joy and happiness.   If there are harsh decrees of a foreign government, then there is to be fasting; if there is no decree but there is no peace, such as now, at the present time [my emphasis], those who wish to fast may fast, and those who wish not to fast need not fast.


It is indeed sad and scary that we are living in a time of

“harsh decrees of a foreign government”

May we all soon merit to know true peace in Israel and around the world.

Should we fast?

July 12, 2006

Every year we are faced with the question of how to approach the fast days surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem.  The city is no longer in ruins, yet the Temple is not there.  How does that impact the coming fasts (17th of Tammuz & 9th of Av).  Here is a fascinating article dealing with this question.  It is hosted on the website of Bar Ilan University, a great site for divrei torah on the parasha and Jewish life in general.

Do you find fasting a meaningful tool to remind you of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem?

Does fasting help you examine yourself and begin a process of teshuvah?

Can you imagine another ritual that may be helpful in that regard?

The Three Weeks

July 11, 2006

Here is a brief summary of the Halakhot of The Three Weeks and the Nine Days. Please do not hesitate to call with further questions. (201) 328 – 5995