The Weekly Parsha: A New Dimension

by Rabbi Heshy Grossman

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Parshas Devarim


"All those who mourn for Yerushalayim merit to see it in its joy" (Ta'anis 30b)

"Joy will arrive on none other than Tisha B'Av. Because they established it as a day of mourning, Hashem is destined to make it a Yom Tov." (Pesikta Rabbasi 29)

"The Churban of the Bais HaMikdash is the cause for its reconstruction" (Maharal, Netzach Yisrael, Ch. 26)

These statements express a common theme: The destruction of the Temple, and the mourning over its loss, plant the seeds of redemption.

In our shiur we will explain this concept, demonstrating why human suffering is a necessary by-product of life in this world.


Chapter 49 in Isaiah describes the ingathering of the exiles in Messianic times.

"Thus says Hashem, At a time of acceptance I have answered you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you...Say to the prisoners, go free, and to those in darkness, be revealed...They shall not hunger nor thirst...These that come from far, and these that come from the north and from the west...Sing, heavens, and rejoice, earth, break forth into singing, mountains, for Hashem will comfort His people and show mercy to the afflicted.

These verses are followed by a very puzzling passage.

"And Tzion says, Hashem has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me."

"Can a woman forget her child? Can she not have compassion on the son of her womb?"

"Even if these would forget, but I will not forget you......"

"Lift your eyes around you and see all those who have gathered, coming to you."

Tzion bewails its fate, abandoned and forgotten. Hashem comforts her, assuring her that her time will come. Our Sages question: How is it that the complaint of Tzion is voiced in this chapter, that of the Messiah and the gathering of far-flung exiles. Why does Tzion still cry after redemption has arrived?

"But since Tzion sees the incoming of the exiles, and all of Israel, and the heavens and earth rejoicing, and she is not remembered, therefore she says....'Hashem has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me'.

"Is there a Kallah without a Chupah? 'Lift your eyes around you and see...' " (Yalkut Shimoni 169)

This chapter then, is referring to a period where the Jewish People have returned to Eretz Yisrael, yet Tzion still feels ignored. Though surrounded by her children, she remains forlorn. "Who bore these for me, I am in sorrow and alone", not recognizing those who have rebuilt Jerusalem as her own descendants.

Although the land of Israel may be physically redeemed, the spiritual element referred to as Tzion remains hidden.

What is the place of Tzion in the world of the spirit?

Tzion lies at the center of existence.

"After the Aron was removed, a rock was there [in the Kodesh HaKodashim], from the days of the earliest prophets, it was called 'Shesiyah'...

"[It was called Shesiyah] because upon it the world is the opinion which holds that from Tzion the world was created. (Yoma 53-54)

Hashem comforts the grieving Tzion, "Lift your eyes around you, and see all those who have gathered, coming to you".

Everything in life revolves around Tzion, attracted to the spiritual essence that G-d's land reveals. Though this spiritual basis of life may be concealed, Hashem declares Tzion to be the underlying goal of all that occurs. "Even if these would forget, but I will not forget you". As the purpose of all existence, while everything else is trivial, Tzion remains eternal.

There is a purpose and theme that unites all of creation. Just as the center of a sphere, which is the common point unifiying every extremity on its surface, so too, Tzion, is the 'Tachlis' that all of life aspires to.

The word 'Tzion' is best defined as 'distinct', 'marked', as in 'Tziun' or 'Mitzuyan'. When we say, therefore, that all of life is based upon Tzion, we mean that every item in existence comes to project a particular idea. If Tzion is the goal of all creation, every item in life makes a distinct statement. Life itself is a vehicle of expression, hinting to the spiritual redemption that Tzion reveals.

To summarize: Every element in creation, including suffering and Churban, has a part in the revelation of G-d's ultimate design, the redemption of mankind from spiritual exile, "U'Va L'Tzion Goel".


Why do we feel no pain for the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash?

The answer is obvious.

The world in which we live has no place for Kedusha. We feel no grief because we haven't lost anything.

We suffer not at all for the loss of a Temple that unified heaven and earth. It has no place in our world, the here and now of Olam HaZeh.

Unlike the world of Tzion, revolving around a central core of existence, we have lost the ability to tie one element to another. Every item or event expresses only itself, devoid of purpose or design. Nothing on earth alludes to heaven. Nothing is 'Mitzuyan'.

Perhaps it is for this reason that we have lost the Techeles, the spark of blue that reminded one of the sea, the sky, the Heavenly throne. There is no power on earth to wake us from our stupor and remind us of Heaven.

Except death and destruction.

Let us explain.

The world of the Bais HaMikdash was one that instilled fear and awe in all its inhabitants. "Nora Elokim MiMikdashecha" (Tehillim 76,8) After the destruction of the Temple, Yirmiyah discontinued the mention of Midas Nora in the daily prayers. "Gentiles are dancing in the Heichal, where is His awe?" (Yoma 69b) The prophets understood that with the loss of the Temple, the source of Yiras Shamayim disappears from the earth.

It was the Anshei Kneses HaGedolah, the bearers of Torah SheBa'al Peh, who restored the crown to its glory. They reveal the hidden truth. As any good student of their Talmud can attest, nothing is as it seems. Fear still remains, only it is underneath the surface.

"Aderabah....Eilu Hain Norasaiv, Ilmalei Morao Shel HaKadosh Baruch Hu, Haich Umah Achas Yecholah L'Hiskaiyaim Bein HaUmos"

"On the contrary, this is His Awe, if not for the fear of Hashem, how can one people still exist among the nations" (Yoma 69b)

Let us take a closer look at this important passage.

The Anshei Kneses Hagedolah are teaching us this: The life of the Jewish People depends upon the presence of the Bais HaMikdash, the source of all fear and awe. In its absence, our existence is quite precarious, with nothing but the fear of G-d to guarantee our continuity. When Yiras Shamayim disappears, it becomes transposed as fear of the nations. Life without fear, or in other words, a complacent life of normality, is impossible. The modern-day attempt to forget that we are a lamb in a pack of seventy wolves brings in its wake the unfortunate reminders that we are sustained by fear alone. If we fail to take this lesson to heart, trembling before G-d on our own, the nations of the world will drive the point home.


Why do we not have Yiras Shamayim?

A person is afraid when he senses danger. To fear G-d is to live in the realm of His presence. But we are conscious of nothing outside our physical selves. We are citizens of this world, having lost the Bais HaMikdash that connected Heaven and earth. We are left with the one fear that delineates our existence, the constant fear for our lives imposed by our enemies.

Let us now return to the words with which we began.

"The Churban of the Bais HaMikdash is the cause for its reconstruction"

What is the meaning of Churban?

True Churban is total destruction of the world we occupy. Life is insufferable in a world that has been destroyed.

It is precisely when life is unbearable that Klal Yisrael rediscovers the place of their existence.

It is the suffering and agony of exile that leads Klal Yisrael to despair. In the depths of despair, Klal Yisrael loses all hope of a normal existence. The failure of their efforts forces them to recognize the futility of a physical security assured by natural means. The oppression of the nations drives them back to the G-d of their fathers, their only hope for survival. They yearn for His proximity, and to worship Him once again. It is this connection to the heavens that brings us back full circle, to the Temple of Har Tzion upon which all of life stands.

"All those who mourn for Yerushalayim merit to see it in its joy"

"This is as our Sages said, (Kesuvos 5a) 'The deeds of the righteous are greater than the creation of heaven and earth. About the creation it is written, 'My [left] Hand founded the earth and My Right Hand developed the heavens', yet, regarding the deeds of the righteous it is written, 'The Temple of G-d has been perfected by your hands'. " [heaven and earth are created with one hand, while the righteous use two hands to erect the Holy Temple]

"They begin with 'the deeds of the righteous' and conclude with proof from the building of the Temple, because so it is, truthfully. The righteous, through the deeds that find favor with G-d, they, themselves, are the actual Mikdash Hashem." (Nefesh HaChaim 1,4)

Everything on earth has its parallel in heaven. Man is the Bais HaMikdash and his heart is the Kodesh HaKodashim. He sacrifices his own self-interest in devotion to the will of Hashem. He may be breaking himself, but in the process, he becomes the centerpiece of a whole new world.

He is 'Mitzuyan'. Every move is 'Mitzayen' the world above.

He rejoices with the rebuilding of Tzion, the Temple that he has revealed.

Have a good Shabbos!

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