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Is the Lesson of the Destruction Lost?

By Mark B. Kaplan
7/17/2013, 7:07 AM
Sadly, the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple)  is still in ruins.  The stones from the Temple are being removed by the Muslim Wakf oppressors and being dumped in garbage heaps in violation of Israeli and International Law:

            Article 21 (3) – Mandate for Palestine:

             “No antiquity may be disposed of except to the competent Department, unless this   Department renounces the                              acquisition of any such antiquity…”

To the best of my knowledge, Moshe Dayan’s turning over administration of the Temple Mount does not qualify as such a renouncement.

How can it be that Jews were kept from the site of the Holy Temple on the very Anniversary date of the destruction of both Temples?

The Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. We were all so "frum" that we learned Torah and only ate "BADATZ Mehardin" food but could not treat our brothers with love and compassion. However, our creator demands more of us. He wants us to be “tzadik v’yashar.” Being a Tzadik means being righteous. When we learn Torah and keep the commandments we are called righteous, but there is more demanded of us—to be “Yashar.” Yashar means being “upright.” What does this mean? It means we need to take our Torah inspired behavior to a higher level and intuitively act on a higher moral level without being judgmental.

This was lacking during the time of the Roman conquest.

According to the story related in the Talmudic Tractate of Gittin, the breaking point that caused the ultimate defeat of the Jews, destruction of the Holy Temple, and the subsequent exile of the Jews for almost 2000 years was the result of an event where an un-named wealthy Jerusalemite held a party and had instructed his servant to invite his friend, a man named Kamtza. The servant erred and sent the invitation to the host's "enemy," a man named Bar Kamtza.

Bar Kamtza thought that perhaps the un-named host was hoping to make peace with him and showed up at the party. Unfortunately, the host upset at seeing Bar Kamtza in his house, humiliated the mistakenly invited gust repeatedly. Despite Bar Kamtza's pleas to keep the matter quiet and the host’s refusal to accept Bar Kamtza’s offer to pay for anything he ate, the host insisted the mis-invited guest leave. Bar Kamtza, trying to save face, then offered to pay for half the party, and then offered to pay for the whole party in order not to be publicly humiliated. The host refused and ejected Bar Kamtza from the party. 

The criticism against the host is not the focus of the story. The main criticism is against the members of the rabbinic community that were in attendance. None of the sages at the party spoke up in Bar Kamtza's defense. The Rabbis were silent as a Jewish man was being humiliated in front of the attendees, who were among the leaders of the community and the "who's who" of society. Surely, the event was reported on the cover of the National Enquirer and posted all over the social media of the day.

As a Torah observant Jew, I want to be careful about how I speak about Rabbinic leaders, but what has changed in 2,000 years? We have gone way too far when a Torah leader says in the audience of the former chief rabbi/spiritual leader of the Shas party, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, that the National Religious are like Amalek. 

I still am hoping that this man’s colleagues, including Rav Ovadia Yosef, will speak out against these inciting and damaging comments and publicly declare that the Torah community does not agree with what this rav said. If the rabbis stay silent, how is this case different than the silence of the rabbis in the story of Bar Kamtza?

Yes, words destroy; silence destroys. Take a look at our most precious holy mountain top and see the ruins of the House the Jewish Nation has held so dear for thousands of years.

May we merit to see the Holy Temple rebuilt speedily in our days.