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Celebrating the Destruction

There are days in the Jewish calendar that are considered “minor” holidays – some Jews observe them, but for others they are so obscure they hardly merit a mention. Sadly, though, nothing unites the Jewish people as much as our shared history of persecution, trauma and tragedy. Every year, together we commemorate the Jewish national day of mourning on the 9th of Av, which marks the destruction of the first and second Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

We mourn on the 9th of Av not just as a remembrance of the distant past. It has significance for us in the here and now, nearly 2,000 years after the destruction of the Second Temple. It is a personal mourning of every Jew on the current destruction of the Temple.

In the Talmud it is written that every day in which the Temple is not rebuilt, it is as if it was destroyed that day. These words are not meant simply to frighten us, but rather to urge us to act, to do everything in our power to end the destruction of the Temple and bring about its rebuilding.

The purpose of the destruction, in essence, was to give us an opportunity to rebuild, stronger and greater than before. Our experiences in exile have only strengthened us as a people, provided we take the right message.

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During this time of year, many people go on summer vacation. It is understood that the purpose of a vacation is not just the rest and relaxation itself, but the benefit that comes later – to return to work refreshed, with new energy.

The same is true of exile. It’s true that initially, it was a negative event for the Jewish people. However, in truth there is a greater good hidden within it. G-d chose to send the Jewish people into exile and remove His presence from our midst. However, this was a necessary process we had to go through to merit the greater revelation that will come with the era of Moshiach.

The exile was never intended to serve as a punishment, but rather to arouse in us a greater desire to connect with G-d. If we had not sinned, it is possible we would have reached that level without ever going into exile. However, being that the situation unfolded the way it did, the exile serves as a pathway to a greater revelation.

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The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the spiritual revelations that await us in the time of Moshiach are the reason that the final Redemption is called true and complete. It will be a redemption not followed by any further exiles – unlike the time of the first and second Holy Temples. The third Temple which will be rebuilt will never be destroyed again.

The final Redemption represents the fulfillment of the ultimate purpose for which the world was created: to bring us to a state in which the light of G-d will fill the entire world openly, and we will worship G-d with no disturbances from without or within.

Today it is not possible for a human being to directly experience the reality of G-d with his physical senses. However, with the coming of Moshiach we will be able to see G-dliness with our eyes of flesh, as the prophet states, “And all flesh together will see that the mouth of G-d has spoken.” We will see the G-dly energy that sustains all of creation, since our senses will be refined. We will reach an authentic state in which the soul shines openly in the body, and the reality of G-d will be as palpable and obvious as our physical reality.

 

 


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