Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

Is This Not A Bitter Golus? Is The Churban Sill Not With Us?

I remember it like yesterday. It goes back to my teaching days. It was a taanis tzibbur and one of my talmidim asked, “Why do we have to fast about something that happened so long ago?” Although most of the other kids hadn't had the audacity to ask the question on their own, once he asked it, others echoed it. What ensued was a long discussion focusing on what the churban Bais Hamikdosh was and what we are missing because of it. Perhaps one of the most acute signs of how far we are is that we don't even understand what we are missing as a result of the churban. The Shulchan Aruch writes, “It is fitting for every person who hasyiras Shomayim(fear of Heaven)to be anguished and concerned regarding thedestructionof the Bais Hamikdosh.” A person once asked the Chiddushei Harim, “And what if a person does not possess yiras Shomayim?” The Chiddushei Harim answered, “Then he must cry over his eigene churban (his own personal churban)!”

The fact that it is so difficult for most of us to really feel and internalize what it is that we are missing is itself part of the churban.


Despite all of the seeming progress in Torah and yirah that we, as a community, have attained, and notwithstanding the relative affluence of this benevolent golus, it is incumbent upon us to understand that the terrible churban is with us every day. The missing Bais Hamikdosh and the missing hashra’as haShechinah is the cause of such a tremendous amount of churban, pain and suffering in our time.


When looking around and taking a second to contemplate all that is happening around us, one can discern that golus is everywhere. It is so thick, so pervasive, that we have almost come to make peace with it.




Is it not the bitterest golus when our own people, bnei Avrohom Yitzchok v’Yaakov, conduct themselves like the geruyim shebe’umos, the worst, most reprehensible, perverse and wicked people in the host culture?


Is it not a deep and bitter golus when a person who is ostensibly a religious Jew takes a knife and murders a rov, a mekubel, a kedosh elyon, in his own bais medrash?


On Tisha B’Av, we will once again bemoan the heinous murder of the novi Zechariah, who was cold-bloodedly killed in the Bais Hamikdosh. “They [fellow Jews] murdered a kohein and a novi, a priest and a prophet, in Hashem’s sanctuary.”


Look at what happened in Be’er Sheva. Was Rav Abuchatzeira not someone who could have been considered one of the kohanim and neviim of our time?


He fasted for so much of his life. He preserved the purity of his eyes in a way that was reminiscent of a level of holiness from generations gone by. He spent his days and nights helping, advising, blessing and strengthening his fellow Jews. He was constantly bound to Hashem and His celestial worlds in deep dveikus. Was not a person akin to a kohein and a novi murdered in his own bais medrash?


Is this not a bitter golus? Is the churban still not with us?


Is it not a deep, bitter golus when a pure, young, Yiddishe yingele, walks home from camp and is kidnapped and killed in the most heinous fashion? In a manner that can barely even be contemplated, let alone done by even the geruyim shebe’umos. Has cold blooded, merciless, pitiless murder become part of our culture? In the past could we even contemplate that any person, any member of the Bnei Yisroel could commit such callous crimes?


Is this not a bitter golus? Is the churban still not with us?


There may be some who say, “Look, the people who committed the above crimes were mentally unstable. They were ill. They were psychopaths.” Perhaps that is true. In time, the evaluations will come back. Nevertheless, as a prominent gadol remarked, “There have always been crazies among us. Mental illness is a fact. Still, the meshugaim of the past would do things like put on a tallis, constantly blow a shofar, and claim that Moshiach was coming or that they themselves were Moshiach.” Those were Jewish meshugaim.


How did it happen that the golus has become so black, so miserable, that our meshugaim have also been influenced by its darkness and bleakness?


Is this not a bitter golus? Is the churban still not with us?


Is it not a deep, bitter golus when many people at the forefront of the battle to legitimize abomination, practices that the Torah calls toeivah, are the children of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov? They are not content to sin privately. They want the entire world to sin with them, and to legislate, enshrining their abomination into law. They are so removed from their spiritual source that they have adopted a ‘religion’ of “fighting discrimination” as their cause célèbre. They will never know or understand that Chazal tell us that this kind of legislation is what brought about the Mabul, the great deluge in the times of Noach.


Is it not a bitter golus when a person running for Congress who calls himself an observant Jew, sends his children to be educated in Jewish institutions and claims that he goes to shul on Shabbos gets up in the New York State Assembly and announces that he is an “observant Jew,” married by an Orthodox rabbi, in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony, and then says, “My religion is important to me…but [toeivah legislation] is not a religious issue”?


Is it not a deep, bitter golus when that same person marches in lockstep with tumah, when that same personhas publically stated on numerous occasions that he is a “strong supporter” of “marriage redefinition,” which he contends is a “human rights issue” and a matter of “marriage equality”? Does this kind of legislation not sully the very air that we breathe with tumah?


Is this not a bitter golus? Is the churban still not with us?


Is it not a bitter golus when that same person who fights to redefine marriage and marches in lockstep with deviants has the chutzpah to run for elective office in frum strongholds and expects to win the majority of their votes?


All Jews are connected. Kol Yisroel areivim zeh lazeh. We are all responsible for each other. When terrible things happen in the Jewish community, it has an effect on all of us. We are all collectively part of one entity.


We can’t help but think of the well-known story of one of the Chassidic masters who looked up to Heaven and said, “Ribbono Shel Olam! If you don’t send Moshiach now, I don’t know if there will be anyone left for Moshiach to come to.”


The Torah enjoins us to be a mamleches kohanim v’goy kodosh. What is happening to us? What is happening to our tzelem Elokim?


Oy, do we need the geulah!


Oy, do we need the Bais Hamikdosh!


Oy, do we need the Shechinah to reside among us once more!


Make no mistake about it. All of these above-mentioned tragedies and all of the terrible things that happen to Klal Yisroel are products of the golus.


This Tisha B’Av, if any of us are sitting on the floor and a little voice inside of us is thinking, “Why am I doing this? What is golus? What is the Bais Hamikdosh?” think about what has transpired recently. Think about how the lack of the Shechinah’s Presence amongst us has affected us collectively as a nation.


And cry. Cry for the churban habayis. Cry for the eigene churban!


For we are still mired in a deep and bitter golus. The churban is still with us. What will it take to end it?



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