Israel Forever

For the week ending 23 August 2003 / 25 Av 5763

Virtual Self-Destruction

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

After commanding the people that upon entering Eretz Yisrael it is their responsibility to smash the altars of the heathens and completely destroy any vestige of idol worship, Moshe warns them that "You shall not do thus to Hashem, your G-d" (Devarim 12:2-4).

This warning, which we will hear read this Shabbat, has a special significance for Jews in every generation.

Rashi cites the challenge raised by the Talmudic Sage Rabbi Yishmael: "Is it at all imaginable that Jews would destroy the altar of G-d to necessitate such a warning?" The answer he provides to this rhetorical question is that Jews were cautioned to avoid behaving like the nations they replaced and thus cause the Sanctuary to be destroyed because of their sins.

Here we have a valuable lesson in "virtual destruction" of what is most sacred to us. What sane Jew, no matter how far removed he is from religious observance, would dream of burning a synagogue? How much more so is the idea of destroying the Beit Hamikdash beyond the conception of any Jew.

But how many of those Jews are aware that it was the mistake our ancestors made in imitating the ways of heathen nations that brought about the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, and it is their perpetuation of this tragic effort to abandon our Torah-true uniqueness in order to be like all the nations which prevents that Beit amikdash fHamikdash from being rebuilt?

Virtual destruction in the past and virtual prevention of reconstruction today must be replaced with a rededication to a Torah way of life which will merit for us an actual rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash to sanctify Israel forever.

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