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Tisha b’Av
August 14, 2016 / 10 Av, 5776

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Tisha b’Av (literally “the ninth of the month of Av”) is a day of fasting and mourning for the Jewish people. It is the day on which we commemorate the destructions of both the First and Second Temples, as well as many other national tragedies which took place on this date, including the expulsion of all Jews from Spain during the Inquisition (1492), the beginning of World War I (1914), the decision to implement the “Final Solution” of the Holocaust during World War II (1941), the expulsion of all Jews from the Gaza Strip (2005), etc.

More than that, however, we mourn the causes of these tragedies: our sins, beginning with our rejection of the Land of Israel in the wilderness because of the slanderous report of the spies (Numbers 13-14). We are taught that while the First Temple was destroyed because of the prevalence of sins like murder, immorality and idolatry, the Second Temple was destroyed primarily because of the sin of “baseless hatred”, a failure to show love to each other.

This year, the 9th day of Av falls on a Shabbos, a day on which fasting and mourning are prohibited. As a result, the fast is moved to the following day, the 10th of Av (August 14th, 2016).

As we fast, we should remember that we are not to “merely bow our heads like bulrushes and spread out sackcloth and ashes…”, but we must work toward correcting those sins which led to the destruction: “…to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free… to share your bread with the hungry, and bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, clothe him, and do not hide yourself from your own flesh” (Isaiah 58).

“By this shall all men know that you are My talmidim: that you love one another.” (Yochanan 13:35)

“But though we and our Temple were destroyed through baseless hatred, we will be restored through unconditional love.”

(R’ Avraham Yitzchak Kook, 1865-1935)

An Opportunity Knocks…

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“Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that gives it willingly with his heart you shall take my offering… And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:2, 25:8)

“And [afterward] the people were restrained from bringing… For the materials they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.” (Exodus 36:6-7)

Wherein lies the sadness of this account? Unable to contribute to the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) any longer, some people would have realized that they had waited too long, deliberating about what to give, if anything. When the window of opportunity closed and “the people were restrained from giving”, those who had given already to G-d’s dwelling place, a place of physical closeness and spiritual intervention on behalf of Israel and the rest of the world, would forever be linked to the spiritual elevation of their people and indeed, all of mankind. Not all of Israel would have this privilege.

A story is told of a rabbi from Israel who traveled to a distant land to ask for donations to fund his yeshiva (school of Torah learning). When he arrived and spoke at a certain synagogue, he asked for each man present to give generously, supporting the yeshiva for a whole week. His entreaties were enthusiastically received by the hearers and many people spoke of donating generously. However, the local community leader got up afterward and downplayed the appeal, convincing his congregants to hold on to their money for “more important purposes”, or to only donate only small sums. Later apologizing for the paltry sum which had been donated, he asked the rabbi’s pardon for intervening, stating that he was certain he had angered the Rosh Yeshiva. The visiting rabbi responded very calmly, explaining to the community leader as he prepared to depart: “When G-d commanded Moshe our teacher to seek out Bezalel son of Uri to build the Mishkan in the wilderness, imagine Moshe going out into the camp to search for a man named, Bezalel, the one G-d had chosen. When he met a man, he would say, ‘G-d wishes us to build a Dwelling Place for Him. Are you Bezalel son of Uri who has been given the privilege of building it?’ If the man answered, ‘No, I am not Bezalel’, could Moshe have been angry with him? Of course not; he simply was not the man to whom G-d had given the privilege of building the Mishkan.” The rabbi turned to the community leader and finished, “Likewise, why should I be angry if your synagogue will not be counted among the supporters of Torah learning, if you and your community have not been granted the privilege of supporting a yeshiva?” In other words, the leader and his people had lost out on a rare privilege, and the window of opportunity had closed.

Another story is told of a young man whose extreme poverty prevented him from traveling to yeshiva to learn. He did not even have enough money to buy a pair of shoes and the weather was cold, with snow on the roads. He begged a wealthy man of his acquaintance who had just purchased a new pair of shoes to give him his old pair so that he could walk to the yeshiva and learn there. But the man refused, actually mocking the poor man’s circumstance. Years later, when the poor young man had grown to be a great and renowned rabbi, that same rich man wanted to fund the publication of one of the rabbi’s books. But the rabbi refused, and told him that he had once had his chance to contribute, but he had thrown it away. If he had supported the young boy who needed shoes, then he would have had a share in everything that boy did in the future. But now it was too late; the opportunity had been missed and would never return.

What does all this have to do with Tisha b’Av?

The principal focus of the mourning of Tisha b’Av is on the destruction of our Temple. We who have never known what it is to have the Holy Temple in our midst can scarcely comprehend the loss we suffer in its absence. Those who witnessed its destruction spoke afterwards of the colossal spiritual vacuum which could immediately be felt, the increased difficulty of things like faith, fervent devotion and spiritual insight which had seemed to come so easily before. They said that the physical world itself changed: colors became dimmer, fruit lost its taste, and the world was left a shell of its former self.

Faced with the real ramifications of the Temple’s destruction, can we content ourselves with merely mourning its departure? We know that G-d’s Word tells us that a new Temple will be rebuilt and that He will again occupy it as He did in days gone by. (Ezekiel 40-48) Is there some way that we may participate in it’s rebuilding now?

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The Temple Institute is an organization based in Jerusalem, which is dedicated to not only commemorating the Temple, but also to rebuilding it. They have studied in great depth the practical steps of doing so, preparing architectural plans and disseminating information to bring this project into the public eye, but they have done much more. They have crafted nearly all the sacred vessels necessary for use in the rebuilt Temple, from the solid gold Menorah (currently on display in the Old City of Jerusalem, near the Kotel) to the musical instruments for the Levitical singers. They have also produced the garments for the priests, including the High Priest’s Breastplate. These articles are not merely showpiece reproductions for historical purposes, they are fully functional and are intended for use.
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This past week, the Temple Institute announced that they were beginning a school to train Levitical priests to perform their duties in the Third Temple. The school will be funded by donations from the public, and is listed on Indiegogo (a crowd-funding website). They hope to raise at least $75,000. This effort is in addition to the already-existing general fund set up for the building of the Third Temple, as well as a fund for raising a sacrificial red heifer, an important part of restoring ritual purity to those who wish to enter the Temple.

This is an opportunity unlike any other you may come across. This is not like World Vision or other charities to which people donate, which then choose how to spend those donations. This is an investment in the spiritual future of Israel and the future redemption of the entire world. Your donations will mean that you have a share in the rebuilt Temple and all that comes from it. The service of its priests will be a direct result of your efforts.

JewishEyes.org is not connected with or affiliated with the Temple Institute, and they may be unaware that we are promoting them here, but it is impossible to ignore the tremendous, once-in-two-millennia opportunity which is before us. This window of opportunity will not last forever. The funding campaign for the school will end in two months.

When the original Mishkan was being built in the wilderness, “everyone whose heart motivated him” was given the honor of contributing to the Sanctuary of G-d. But eventually, a point arrived at which the word went out: “No more!” and the people were restrained from bringing anything else. If anyone had delayed up to that point, it was too late for them. Do not let it be too late for you.

To donate to the School for Kohanic Studies,
click here.

To see the other funds set up by the Temple Institute, click
here or here.
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This Week's Learning
August 21 - 27, 2016 / 17 - 23 Av, 5776
“Eikev” (Result)
eikev-mini
Torah:  Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
Haftarah:  Isaiah 49:14 - 51:3
To increase your understanding, please read the entire Torah portion before watching the video.
Topics:
  • Reward and Consequence
  • Lest You Eat and Forget
  • Eikev and Achar: Afterwards
  • The Word Became Tangible
  • The Blessings of Obedience

  • Fruit of Your Womb and Ground
  • Grain, Wine and Oil
  • The Ways of G-d
  • The Early and Late Rains
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#46 of 54
Time: 1:46:44
Lesson MVS1346
Recorded 5766 / 2006
Many people have an opinion about the Messiah. This year long study examines each section of Moses’ writings from the point of view of the Sages who lived in ancient and more recent times. What did these scholars find in the pages of the Scriptures that would reveal the future plan of G-d in the messianic kingdom?

This fascinating study compares the Midrash Rabbah, Targums, Mishnah, Gemarah and other ancient Jewish commentaries with the writings of the Bible to discover in what ways G-d chose to speak to the people of the Second Temple era using traditions and customs to reveal the identity of King Messiah with startling clarity.

Click here to view more learning from this series.
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What Does This Mean?
This Hebrew text is pronounced, "b'ezrat
Hashem".  It means, "With the help of G-d".