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23 Tammuz 5766 - July 19, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
Why Was the Land Lost?

A Compendium of Remarks from Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv shlita

Part I

Danger of Becoming Overly Accustomed to Kedushoh of Mikdosh

Yechezkel the Novi (46:8-9) tells us: "When the nosi enters, he shall enter the hall through its gate and leave in the same way. But when an am ho'oretz comes before Hashem on yomim tovim, whoever enters by the northern gate to bow [before Hashem] shall leave by the southern gate. Likewise whoever enters by the southern gate shall leave by the northern gate. He shall not return using the same gate in which he entered, but shall leave by the opposite way."

Albeit noticing something new, something he never saw before, thrills an average person for the first moment, the possibility always exists that his excitement will later, and not even much later, become dampened. He will become accustomed to what he experienced and it will cease to stimulate him anymore. In order to avoid this possible cessation or step-down of stimulation, the novi commands us to leave the Beis Hamikdosh through another gate. Through a person's walking through the Beis Hamikdosh in another direction to reach the other gate he will undergo fresh stimulation, and it is to be hoped that the impression emanating from the awesome kedushoh of the Beis Hamikdosh will persist.

Although we can well picture the uplifting scene of the holy Cohanim engaged in their avodoh for the Creator and the Leviim playing on their musical instruments and singing on top of their duchon (platform), we are concerned that even this readily perceptible kedushoh will soon become put out of mind. Unfortunately one becomes rapidly adapted to an existing condition and environment, and one's senses become numbed.

One particular person is, however, unaffected by previous exposure to kedushoh: the nosi. Even if the nosi exits the same gate in which he entered, he will not lose any of his former sublime feelings. Such an uplifted person does not need to undergo new experiences. He does not need any new stimulus to renew and refresh his feeling of kedushoh, and therefore only he is allowed to leave through the gate that he previously entered.

[Collection of Teshuvos II, Mili De'Agodoh, pg. 22]

The Day Commemorating Tisha B'Av

R' Yochonon says (Taanis 29a): "If I would have been there I would have set the tenth [of Av as a fast] since most of the Beis Hamikdosh was burned on it." The Chasam Sofer (Orach Chaim 733) comments that this shows that we maintain that after "the malevolent came and profaned it" ( Yechezkel 7:21) and set fire to it, which occurred on Tisha B'Av, the Beis Hamikdosh immediately became chulin (profane and not kodesh). Accordingly what was burned on the tenth of Av was already profane from the ninth of Av, and it was therefore not fitting to set a fast for its being mostly burned on the tenth.

This explanation can be challenged from what we know that also R' Yochonon maintains (Nedorim 62a) that "the malevolent came and profaned it" transformed the Beis Hamikdosh from kodesh to profane. R' Yochonon says: "Anyone using the crown of Torah is uprooted from the world. Belshatzar used a kli that was kodesh, and that kli became chulin after being profaned, as is written, `The malevolent came and profaned it.' Belshatzar was punished by being uprooted from the world. So surely someone who uses the crown of Torah that exists forever will be uprooted from the world."

Furthermore, a beraissa at the end of Taanis (29a) teaches us: "It is written in Melochim (II Melochim 25:8-9), `In the fifth month [Av] on the seventh of the month . . . the head executioner, Nevuzar'adon, servant of the king of Bovel, came to Yerushalayim. He burned the house of Hashem.' Yirmiyohu (52:12-13) however writes, `In the fifth month on the tenth of the month . . . Nevuzar'adon the head executioner, who was in the service of the king of Bovel, came to Yerushalayim. He burned the House of Hashem . . .' The beraissa asks: `You cannot say the seventh since the tenth is already said. And you cannot say the tenth since the seventh is already said. How can this be resolved? On the seventh the non-Jews entered the Heichal. They ate and caused destruction there on the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, and close to night [of the tenth] they set fire to it."

Why according to the Chasam Sofer did Chazal set Tisha B'Av as a fast day? The Beis Hamikdosh already became profane from the time that the non-Jews first entered Yerushalayim, which was on the seventh of Av.

This question forces us to determine that profaning the Beis Hamikdosh and the setting up of the fast day are unconnected. Although the kedushoh of the Beis Hamikdosh was annulled on the day that the non-Jews conquered it, it was still considered the House of Hashem. The fact itself that the non-Jews set fire to the great and sacred house was, however, sufficient reason to set that day as a fast day.

Although its kedushoh was nullified, if the House of Hashem had remained in existence [and not been burned down], and the Jews would have later reconquered it, they would have used that same edifice for the Beis Hamikdosh. This is exactly what happened at the time of the Greeks when the Chashmonaim seized the Beis Hamikdosh: its kedushoh was renewed and the Jews again sacrificed korbonos at the Beis Hamikdosh. The Rambam writes that the Beis Hamikdosh can be re-used since the kedushoh installed by Shlomoh Hamelech remains forever. All this is perfectly simple. [Collection of Teshuvos III, 718 and 788]

The Darkened Walls of the Kosel

. . . however in connection with spraying red-hot sand to renew the stones of the Kosel and to remove the dirt that has accumulated over the years from the time of the churban of the House of Elokim, it seems to me that even if we assume that using this spray does not ruin its stones, it is preferable to leave the Kosel Hama'arovi as is. We should leave it in the same way it was for the last hundreds of years from the time of its destruction.

These stones, blackened from age, together with the grass that grows on it, sadden all who see them. Through these blackened stones people will remember how the Beis Hamikdosh looked when it stood in its splendor, and that we are, unfortunately, currently unable to be oleh regel to it. Through them we clearly see that our holy and magnificent House of Hashem was burned down and all of His delightful spiritual treasures were contained in it.

Contemplating this will stimulate us to continue requesting from Hashem, requesting until He listens to us, to have pity and return the Beis Hamikdosh to its previous glory. [Collection of Teshuvos III 720 — and excerpt from a letter in response to the Rav of the Kosel z'l]

Our Evil Neighbors

The Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Dei'os 10:1) writes: "It is quite normal for a person's ideas and behavior to be influenced through his acquaintances and friends. For this reason a person must befriend tzaddikim and always be near chachomim so he can learn how they act."

We also learn in Ovos (2:9): "What is the proper lifestyle for a person to follow? R' Yehoshua says: `A good friend.' R' Yosef says: `A good neighbor.'"

The Mishnah (Nego'im 12:6)) teaches us: "It is unfortunate for a rosho, and it is unfortunate for his neighbor!" If the tzaddik did not even try to inspire his neighbor to change his wicked ways and, as a result, his neighbor foolishly remained in his wickedness, for sure the rosho has in some way influenced him negatively. For this reason the entire Cohanim shift of Bilgah was punished (Succah 5:8, because of Miriam bas Bilgah who converted, married a Greek official, and later when the Greeks entered the Beis Hamikdosh struck the mizbeiach with her shoe and denounced Hashem), as is written in Sotah (7a), "Bad neighbors are a cause of many [unfavorable] matters."

The fact is that Eretz Yisroel was not even once destroyed during the period of the first Beis Hamikdosh.

First it is written (I Divrei HaYomim 5:26), "And he exiled the [shevet of] Reuven and Gad and the half shevet of Menasheh." They chose to live in Trans- Jordan because it was superior cattle grazing land. They loved raising cattle and distanced themselves from being near anything kodesh and the holy Mikdosh. Naturally this directly influenced the way they acted, "But they betrayed the G-d of their fathers" (I Divrei HaYomim 5:25).

Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah 22:7) also write, "In addition you find that the descendants of Gad and Reuven were rich, owned much cattle, loved raising cattle and settled in Trans- Jordan, and therefore were first [to be led out to golus].

Because of the agolim of Yerovom ben Nevat and his guards not allowing Jews to ascend to Yerushalayim (I Melochim 12:28- 29), the Jews severed all connection with Yerushalayim. Tosafos (Bovo Basra 21a s.v. Ki MiTziyon) writes: "`In order to teach to have fear.' The Sifrei writes that the significance of ma'aser sheini is that they cause one to study Torah. Since bnei Yisroel would remain in Yerushalayim until they would finish eating their ma'aser sheini and would see everyone engaged in meleches Shomayim and avodas Hashem, they too would direct their hearts to be lesheim Shomayim and engage in Torah study."

And indeed those living nearer to the Mikdosh were exiled last. The influence of kedushoh helped them survive longer. [Collection of Teshuvos III Mili DeAgodoh pg. 60]

Doubly Sinning

The Tosefta at the end of Taanis teaches us: "On the seventh [of Av] the nations seized the Heichal." We therefore see that on the seventh of Av the "malevolent came to it and profaned it" (Yechezkel 7:22).

However in Taanis (29a) the gemora teaches us: "The first Beis Mikdosh was destroyed on the night of Tisha B'Av and Motzei Shabbos. The Leviim were saying shirah [to Hashem] and were standing on their platform."

In order to resolve this apparent inconsistency, we must assume that although the Heichal was seized on the seventh of Av, the Azoroh (court) was still in the hands of the Cohanim until Tisha B'Av. [Collection of Teshuvos 788]

"You shall break apart their mizbeichos; you shall smash their pillars . . . You shall not do this to Hashem, your G-d" (Devorim 12:3-4).

"R' Yishmoel said: `Can one possibly think that Yisroel are demolishing the mizbeichos (altars)? This is teaching us that one should not act like them and cause your sins to destroy your Father's Mikdosh" (Sifrei 12:7)

When a person sins, not only is he held accountable for the aveiroh itself that he transgressed, he is also held accountable for transgressing the negative mitzvah of, "You shall not do this." This is what is meant by the saying of Chazal (Medrash Rabba, Eichah 1:57), "You sinned doubly and are consoled doubly." The sin was double: We are also held responsible for the sin of, "You shall not do this" since our sins caused the Beis Hamikdosh to be destroyed.

How are we doubly consoled? The gemora (Bovo Kamma 60b) writes: "`If a fire will go out' (Shemos 22:5) — by itself, `the one who kindled the fire shall pay for it.' HaKodosh Boruch Hu said: `I must compensate for the fire that I kindled. I kindled a fire in Tziyon, as is written (Eichah 4:11), `He kindled a fire in Tziyon' and in the future I will build it with fire, as is written (Zecharya 2:9), `I will be for it . . . a wall of fire all around and a honor within it."

Rashi explains: "`If a fire will go out'—by itself, we caused that He will destroy it, and Hakodosh Boruch Hu promised to compensate us for it as if He set it to fire." I will build it with fire. That is our double consoling, and "The glory of this latter Mikdosh will be greater than the first" (Chagai 2:9). [Collection of Teshuvos II Mili DeAgodoh pg. 107]

End of Part I

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