Hello, my name is Rabbi Mendy, and I am here to share with you a story. I am guessing that you’ve heard the story before. Especially if you attended a Jewish day school or Hebrew school.
But I am afraid that you heard the boring version of the story. Here is how the boring version goes:
Many years ago, there was a beautiful, holy temple in Jerusalem. Then, G-d decided it should be destroyed. So today, we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. Pretty dull, right? Why should we care about something that happened so many years ago? Isn’t it time to move on?
Show this short story to any good storyteller, and they will tell you what’s wrong with it. Yes, it accurately describes what happened but does little to bring us “in” the story.
It’s like sharing a divorce story by saying, “two people were married to each other, then they decided to end their marriage.” Technically, this is accurate. But, is that all? What about the immense pain of the couple? What about the emotional turmoil they must have experienced before reaching this place?
This is what the story of the destruction is lacking. It lacks the emotions, the feelings, and most importantly, the story of the relationship.
Because much like a decorated bedroom, the holy temple was never about the building itself. It was an expression of the deep love that G-d has for his people. He desires us, craves our closeness, and asks, “please, build me a home so you and I can be really close and spend time together.”
At first, things were going great. But as time passed, we didn’t invest as much as we should have in this relationship. We didn’t display the same love and enthusiasm He had shown us. And then, the unthinkable happened. Our shared space was gone.
Yes, we mourn the destruction of the physical building. Yet much more than that, we are sad because we miss our special place. We miss feeling the constant love of G-d to us. We want to feel close once again.
Now, this is a very different story. This is a sad story, but it also hints at a happy ending. Because now that we know the problem, we also know what we need to do to fix it. We simply need to invest more in our relationship with G-d.
May we experience the happy ending very soon, amen!
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker
P.S. Citing the verse “Zion shall be redeemed through justice, and her captives, through tzedakah,” the Rebbe suggested that we use this period to focus on three particular areas:
2. More prayers: Try adding more prayers to your daily routine or paying more attention to the words you say during prayer.
3. More Tzedakah (charity): try donating more to charity, or volunteering your time to a worthy cause.