It is going to be 1,551 years since the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash, the Holy Temple. I cannot imagine that the generation of the destruction would have had any idea that the third Temple would not have been built after so many years. There was only a seventy-year gap between the destruction of the first Temple and the construction of the second Temple.
I would like to believe that if the generation of the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash had been aware of the length of time that would elapse without a third Temple, they would have acted differently. In other words, they would not have engaged in conduct which caused the destruction, which was baseless hatred. Every Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we are reminded what we need to do, and yet we do not change. In our country, it is has repeatedly shown that the COVID vaccines work and save lives. In contrast, those who do not take the vaccine are putting themselves and other non-vaccinated friends and family at risk. Yet significant numbers of people have refused to get vaccinated.
Whether it is in the spiritual realm or our health, those who do not want to change will repeatedly come up with excuses or justifications.
Even when we engage in the proper activities, sometimes we either downplay their importance or do not have the necessary mindset to engage in the activity. There are occasions when we are reminded of their importance from an unlikely source. The following illustrate two examples.
One thing that Jews regularly do, especially when we are requesting that someone should survive an illness or other serious situations, is pray. At the end of weekday services, some synagogues add a Psalm and then say a special prayer for the sick. While this is going on, there are those who are already out the door or just mouth the words, already thinking about the next activity for the day.
One of the stories that received a lot of coverage at the site of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Florida, was 12-year-old Elisheva Cohen standing by the rubble and saying Tehilim (Psalms). The non-Jewish mayor of Surfside, Charles Burkett, was so moved that when he mentioned it, it appeared he was ready to lose his composure. Then, when President Biden went down to visit the site and speak with the families, he made sure that there was public interaction between him and Elisheva. They reminded us of the power of prayer and how important it is. If a girl’s prayer has an effect on two men, imagine what our sincere prayer can have on G-d.
The second example is the Jewish idea of the importance of a taking care of the dead, including dealing with the body. The significance of having a burial is conveyed in one of the blessings in the Birkas Hamazon (grace after meals). The brachah “Ha’Tov v’HaMaitiv” was added due to the Romans’ permission after a long time to allow the burial of the rebellious Jews that they had killed.
For a while, since the building fell, those at the scene kept on referring it to as a rescue mission, even when it was highly unlikely they were going to find anyone alive. The feeling was that if it no one was alive, the operation became less important. I saw the head of the Israeli team being interviewed. His attitude was that it did not matter. Those who died are parents, brothers, sisters, children of people who are alive, and they will spare no effort so that the bodies are found. Although I did not see the interviewer during the entire time the Israeli was talking, when he began, it was a split screen. When he started talking about the respect for the dead, they changed the screen. My guess is that the network did not want to see the interviewer’s emotional reaction.
Sometimes, when you look at a television schedule, there is no program listed. It reads, “To Be Announced.” This year on Tishah B’Av, we are still waiting for it to be announced when Tishah B’Av will change from a day of mourning to a day of joy. May it come speedily in out time.