Thursday, July 30, 2009

"If We Don't Make Kiddush, The Goyyim Will Make Havdallah"

The above quote was said today by someone who was speaking before one of the kinnos at yeshiva (I davening with the Israelis, but went to the Americans for kinnos). It was said by some big rabbi that most of us, if not all of us, have heard of (I kept saying his name to myself all day so I wouldn't forget who it was, but alas I forgot).

I've mentioned this before. Why was the Beis HaMikdash destroyed? I was speaking to someone, and they kept asking how could God have let this happen? All these atrocities (truth is, that a lot of people have this question)? And I said, well, it's pretty simple actually, we sinned and Hashem punished us. We sinned a lot. A lot. And it was mostly with avodah zara (although we were also immoral sexually and killed people, apparently). So much so that King Yoshiyahu (grandson of King Menashe) was 16 years old in the 8th year of his reign when he first saw a Torah. Chilkiyahu the Kohein Gadol (Yirmiyahu's father) found a Sefer Torah, showed it to Yoshiyahu and he got pretty much the entire nation do teshuva, it was unbelievable. If he wouldn't have gotten killed he may have been able to get to those people who were still doing avodah zara (some stubborn people hid their idols behind their doors, so that Yoshiyahu's inspectors wouldn't find them) and the nation would've been without avodah zara for the first time since King Shlomo. But anyway...that's how much we sinned. So much so that the king didn't see a sefer Torah until he was 8 years in his reign (16 years old).

We sinned so much that King Menashe put an idol in the Kodesh Hakadashim, the Holy of Holies. So much we sinned that when the navi (prophet) Zechariyah ben Yehoyada was protesting the placing of an idol in the Heichal (room of the Beis Hamikdash connected to the Kodesh Hakadashim, where the mizbei'ach and the menorah are) by King Yo'ash, the people stoned him and killed him (I quoted in the post that I linked to above). On Yom Kippur no less! Not only was he protesting an idol, it was, among other things, Yom Kippur! And inside the Beis Hamikdash, where someone who even had been near a corpse can't go, and they killed him there.

We had sunk so low, and yet people ask (even the Jews alive then asked more or less the same thing) how could this have happened.

The answer lies in Yirmiyahu's response to the people who asked him. "If you would have cried even once while you were in Tziyyon, you would not be here today (on their way to Bavel in captivity)."

Yom Kippur is coming up in less than two months. What better time to start cleansing ourselves for YK than now? Even if we take on one thing, try to fix one thing in ourselves. You shouldn't bite more than you could chew. You see that's one difference between Judaism and Christianity -- by them it's you gotta be perfect or nothing. By us, even one little act could change things. The Rambam says (don't know where, Hilchos Teshuva maybe?) that everyone should act as if the merits of the world are equal to its demerits, and any act you do will tip the scale one way or another. The smallest act can tip the scale one way or another.

We can do it. Slowly but surely.

"Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor." We don't have to finish, we don't have to be perfect, we just have to do as much as we can, starting with one thing.

People ask the same question about the Holocaust, how could this have happened? If there's a God, there's no way He would have let the Holocaust happen, is what atheists say. A lot of survivors decided not to be religious, understandably. They couldn't see God, they felt He had left them.

I was told the answer to this only recently. We have to look at what happened in Germany a few years before that, in the late 1800's. With the Enlightenment, also came the reform movement. What was there motto? "Berlin is the new Yerushalayim." Why do they call shuls "temple"? Because they didn't believe anymore in the Beis Hamikdash being The Temple anymore. They decide to trim some mitzvos. "This doesn't apply anymore." Basically they decided not to folllow the Torah. I hate to say this, but Hashem clearly states in the Torah what would happen if we turn away from Hashem...

It breaks my heart, but to me at least, it seems that this is correct, that this is the truth. I mean, it's kind of comforting for me at least, that there was a reason for the Holocaust. Wouldn't it be worse if it happened just because? I think so.

May Mashi'ach come speedily in our day.


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