Yearning and Desire
| Published: June 28, 2021
This week’s music: https://youtu.be/2Zw7Kico7Oo
Ani Yehudi אני יהודי
Here we are again. Approaching three weeks of various stages of mourning which relate specifically to the destruction of the Beit Hamikdah, both of The Holy Temples, approximately 2000 years ago. As the Holy Torah is always alive in every generation, it is of interest to me to look into this week’s Torah portion of “Balak” and see what the connection is to our world in which we are living at this time in history. Balak , the king of The Moabite nation is literally scared of B’nai Yisrael.
He fears our military power, our history of taking in thousands of eager converts in all areas which we had conquered and specifically, the power of Hashem our God. ”And Balak, son of Tzipor, saw all that Yisrael did to the Emorite nation. And Moav was very fearful of the nation because it was so large in number and they were angered and disgusted in the face of Israel” ( Bamidbar22.2-3).So Balak, eager to come out on top, send his messengers to enlist the services of Bilam, a former member of Pharoh’s high court in Mitzraim.Bilam not only witnessed the great power of Hashem but he also understood the unique relationship that the B’nai Yisrael had with Hashem. He realized that not only were we chosen by God for this unique relationship ,but that we too accepted our side of the responsibility by following all that was taught to us from The Holy Torah which we were blessed to receive at Har Sinai. Therefore he knew that the only possible way that Balak and The Moabites could conceivably defeat us was by creating traps that would ultimately disconnect us from God. Without Hashem we are vulnerable and open to attack both physically and spiritually. He wanted to instill doubt in us so that we would be spiritually confused, both in mind and in heart, and would leave Hashem’s side. Whenever that happens in our history, we stray away and eventually lose all hope in our reality that indeed we are the chosen nation of God. It is certainly no coincidence that the letters of Bilam and Balak’s names fused together spell Amalek .This is the nation, the force , whom throughout our history constantly calls out to us, “you’re not so special. Time to give up!
As we start the three weeks we must remember that it is hope that gets us through each and every year. So that hope is critical to our continuity and future.The Slonimer Rebbe once again emphasizes that as with all of our holidays, there is an everlasting aspect to that day which makes it come alive in our present day lives. We do not hold on to ,memories of the past without those events having a specific place in the present and a look towards the future. Therefore as it relates to Yerushalayim, it is a place that is very much alive today and it is absolutely forbidden for us to ever forget it’s critical place as the center of our lives and as The Mei Shiloach’ The Ishbitzer Rebbe describes, in the center of the world.
As such we need to be conscious of the fact that The Beit Hamikdash is not just a place that WAS destroyed 2000 years ago, but it remains destroyed. This is a tragedy for Am Yisrael and the world. Jerusalem without the Holy Temple is void of its spiritual center piece. We are simply not “shalem,” complete for one moment if The Temple is destroyed.We can never forget that, as the chosen people we must be aware of how much positive influence and light this Place can have on the entire world. Yeru Shalem, as the prophet Yeshayahu refers to it, the Place which teaches Peace to the world ( Yeshayahu 2.2-4). The place where in the future, all nations will gather together, “ because my house is a house of prayer to all nations” ( Yeshayahu 56.7).The Slonimer teaches in the name of the Holy Beit Avraham that the yearning for this great future is even more powerful than the thing itself. When we yearn for the rebuilding of the Temple we are in essence beginning the actual building of The Beit Hamikdash. As the masses of B’nai Yisrael began to return to Eretz Yisrael with the establishment of the state in 1948 , as Rav Kook expresses, this signaled the beginning of the Geulah, ultimate final redemption .Thus we learn that the yearning for the Beit Hamikdash brings on the essence of its final building in our future. When we cry over its destruction we need to cry tears of hope. Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev teaches that those tears which impress our cheeks also impress upon Hashem that indeed we do yearn for the Beit Hamikdash and place our hope in Him believing that as a result of our desire, He will rebuilt it now. In that light, we can understand why Tisha B’av, the actual date of the destruction of both Temples is described as a “Moed,”Jewish festival. Once it was destroyed the stage was set for us to yearn for it and begin the rebuilding process. When Hashem will grant us that merit it will be the greatest festival we have ever known.
Friends let’s make no mistake about it. The world is waiting for us to accept our rightful responsibility as “the chosen nation.” In order to do so we first must all embrace our personal and collective Jewish identity as active members of “klal Yisrael.” Sadly enough it appears at times that without any curse from the outside we willingly remove ourselves from the “klal.״We try so hard to fit in to society and see this as a great accomplishment. We seem to think that we have outsmarted the world by showing that we can be like anyone else. In reality, the world is laughing at us seemingly saying, “you think you outsmarted us. We tricked you into giving up your true identity and have lost touch with who you really are. Please take back your identity before it is too late.’
Bilam tried to curse us and remove us from our active membership. His curse was turned into a blessing which clearly shows his recognition of the beauty of our ~Jewish identity.”Mah tovu o’halecha Yaakov, mishkenotecha Yisrael,” how beautiful are your holy spiritual tents of study, your places of worship, Yisrael. May we be blessed to retake our true place in the world, recognize our true home and come together to spread a beautiful light to the entire world.