We Have It Backwards
Image courtesy of The Temple Institute
Every Torah class dealing with the “Three Weeks” and “Nine Days” will focus on one thing; how to repair the “Sinat Chinam” (baseless hatred) that brought about the destruction of the second Bet Ha’Mikdash. Thousands of shiurim all around the world will be given on the importance of loving our fellow Jews and not talking Lashon Hara. Rabbonim across the globe will stress – over and over again – that as soon as we stop spreading gossip and slander and take upon ourselves to only speak good about our brothers and sisters… that the Bet Ha’Mikdash will immediately be rebuilt. While that sounds wonderful and very exciting, it is actually completely backwards.
The point is not that as soon as we stop speaking Lashon Hara, the Bet Ha’Mikdash will be rebuilt. The opposite is true! As soon as we start focusing on the Bet Ha’Mikdash, we will all stop talking Lashon Hara… which will then lead to the rebuilding of the Bet Ha’Mikdash! The focal point, therefore, has to be the Bet Ha’Mikdash, not the way we speak. Let me write it this way: The Bet Ha’Mikdash must be at the center of our lives, our thoughts and our prayers. We need to understand that without Hashem’s house, the Torah we love looks like swiss cheese. The Chofetz Chaim’s book “Sefer Ha’Mitzvot Ha’katzar” (The Abridged Book of Commandments) lists all the Torah mitzvot that apply today. Guess what? You know the 613 number we all know and love? It’s far from that! The Chofetz Chaim states that the 248 positive commandments today are down to just 103 (that’s less than half!!!) and the 365 negative commandments are just 205 which brings the magical 613 down to a very sad 311. That’s right folks. Without the Bet Ha’Mikdash and everything is connected to it, our “taryag” mitzvot of 613 are just a plain old man, “eesh”, which is 311.
That has to be the focus… the fact that Torah Judaism today is nothing like it was designed to be. At best, its half of what it should be! The holidays look nothing like they are supposed to be, Yom Kippur is night and day from what it was (and what will be, b’ezrat Hashem!), our daily prayers are just holding things together until the real service returns and while everyone loves Shabbat, what we do as a nation today is completely different from Hashem’s original plan. When we focus on that, and realize how far we are from the truth, we will immediately ask ourselves what must be done to bring back the glory and splendor that once was. To that question, the answer is “Guard Your Tongue!” but when asked in this way, it’s a much different perspective.
I stress again that it’s all about focus. If the focus of our lives is not speaking Lashon Hara, then in all likelihood, we will not live to see the beautiful Kohen Gadol. However, if the focus of our lives is dancing in the Bet Ha’Mikdash, then we will do whatever it takes to make that happen… including not spreading gossip about our neighbor.
Jews must always be concerned about what motivates and guides them and – without a doubt – our motivational force must be to return to the plan of being Hashem’s Nation and not just different communities. The source and root of our nation is in Jerusalem – in Hashem’s house where He “sits” on His earthly throne. We must do whatever we can to make that happen… and it starts with the dream of the Bet Ha’Mikdash. From that dream comes everything else. Let’s make it happen. Am Yisrael Chai!