By HaRav Avrohom Baharan zt"l
A Thought for the Three Weeks
We are now in the Three Weeks when we mourn the destruction
and loss of the Beis Hamikdash. The more we understand
the value of what was lost, the stronger is our longing for
our redemption. There are many facets of this loss, but I
want to focus on one aspect, and to demonstrate how we are
attempting to replace our loss until the rebuilding of the
Beis Hamikdosh, let it be bimheiroh veyomeinu,
speedily, in our times.
The Midrash Tanchuma in parshas Ki Sovo says:
Tzofoh Moshe beruach hakodesh vero'oh sheBeis Hamikdash
osid leheichoreiv vehabikurim asidim lehiposeik -- Moshe
Rabbenu saw with ruach hakodesh that the Beis
Hamikdash will one day be destroyed and that the mitzvah of
bikkurim, bringing in the first fruits, will be
canceled. Omad vehiskeen leYisroel sheyihiyu mispallelim
sheloshoh pe'omim bechol yom -- As a result he
established three daily prayers.
There is a question here: The service in the Beis Hamikdash
includes many elements -- what about the different
sacrifices, the incense, the candles? Why does the Midrash
only mention Moshe Rabbenu's concern about bringing
bikkurim? Why then, was tefillah chosen to
replace bikkurim, and not to take the place of other
components of the actual service, the avodoh?
From this we see the importance attached to the lesson of the
bikkurim in the Beis Hamikdosh. All parts of the
avodoh were of course very exalted but the
bikkurim had a special lesson in that they emphasized
that every Jew is equal in worth to everyone else.
How so? With the other korbonos, an ordinary Jew
cannot bring them to the mizbeiach -- only a Kohen is
allowed to bring them to the mizbeiach, and bringing
them to the mizbeiach is part of the avodoh.
The only offering that a Jew can himself bring to the
mizbeiach is bikkurim. In the mitzvah of
bringing the first fruits, each head of a household brings
his own offering, by himself, to the mizbeiach, and in
this way performs what is otherwise the job of the Kohen --
the owner brings his first fruits in the basket and puts it
next to the mizbeiach.
With bikkurim each Jew feels his own individual
identity without being a part of the crowd, because he does
it by himself. Here we comprehend the first part of the
Midrash about the special quality of the first fruit
offering and how, in its absence we lost a bit of our unique
relationship with Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
Now we will explain where tefilloh comes in to fill
the void created by the absence of bikkurim.
Davening as a necessity for the human soul.
Davening is the chariot on which our personal requests
rise up to Hashem. It is our direct line to Hashem; our
source of comfort in times of distress.
As Dovid Hamelech wrote in Tehillim (65:3):
Shomei'ah tefillah odecha kol bosor yovo'u -- You hear
prayer; unto You all flesh come. Dovid Hamelech is teaching
us here that, "all are equal before Him in prayer" (Shemos
Rabbah 21:4). Prayer equalizes all men and places them on
the same level.
How does this take place? When a person davens, he
must conduct himself as if the Shechinah is
immediately in front of him (Sanhedrin 22a). When he
is davening, he sets up a partition between himself
and his surroundings, in order to better unite with his
Maker. Through this union of man with his Creator, he reveals
and expresses his own uniqueness. When he sees Hashem in
front of him he forgets the world and is truly immersed in
When else can he fully share his inner self with others? A
person's inner self is just that -- it is inside. When he
cannot bring the first fruits since there is no Holy
Sanctuary, there is also an inability to express his inner
self. This, in turn, causes loneliness.
One of the ways to ease loneliness is to first learn to be
acquainted with your inner self. Joining a group won't help.
Loneliness is not a craving for companionship but a longing
for self-revelation, a desire to maximize one's potential and
develop one's talents. The best way to accomplish this is
through actions. The opposite of loneliness is therefore not
companionship but rather creativity and self- expression.
A connection with Hakodosh Boruch Hu reduces the
feeling of being alone, thereby causing the person to be more
independent. When we subjugate ourselves to Hakodosh
Boruch Hu we free ourselves from subservience. As it says
in the Kuzari: Avodas haBorei hi hacheirus ha'amitis --
Service to Hashem is the true freedom. The free person can
express his essence through his own capacities.
In the time of the Beis Hamikdash the Children of
Israel stood next to each other in its Chotzer, where
it was extremely crowded. However, when they bowed down, even
though they prostrated themselves there was plenty of room
for everyone. This was of course a miracle. It gave each one
his own place without anyone else interfering. Just as those
who at any time stand crowded -- omdim tzefufim --in
the midst of a community of people, can also reach a level of
mishtachavim revochim: they can prostrate themselves
and still have room, not only physically but also
So, just as the bikkurim is the offering of the
individual and vital for the Jew's personal self- expression,
so the tefillos are a substitute forum of self-
expression. Our tefillos today are the outpouring of
our souls -- until the time when we will be redeemed with the
building of the third Beis Hamikdash -- it should be quickly
in our time, Omen.
From the Hebrew sefer of HaRav Avrohom Baharan,
Society and its Influences.
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