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Why was the Third Temple destroyed?

The sages of the Talmud consider terrorism, settlements, the Women of the Wall, and the Pride parade, as they debate the culprit (Tisha B'Av)
The Talmud Students, by Ephraim Moses Lilien, engraving, 1915. (Wikipedia)
The Talmud Students, by Ephraim Moses Lilien, engraving, 1915. (Wikipedia)

A story: Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon were sitting in Bnei Brak. Rabbi Tarfon said: For what was the Third Temple destroyed?

Rabbi Yehoshua said: For the haughtiness of the Women of the Wall that could be seen from their throats, as it is said, “Lift not up your horn on high; speak not insolence with a haughty neck” (Psalms 65:1). There are those who say: Rabbi Yehoshua said it was on account of the bodies of women, for the women would bear their thighs in the market, as it is said “Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins and downward, fire; and from his loins and upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the color of amber” (Ezekiel 8:1). (And his students said: Master, can it be that the beast of God would be a woman? He remained silent.)

Rabbi Akiva said: It is on account of the men who covered up the bodies of women and denied the tzelem Elokim (image of God) within them, as it is said ”And God created man in His own image, in the image of God, He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis: 1:27). But there is a contradiction from a beraita! Rabbi Akiva said: For what was the Third Temple destroyed? It is on account of the men who denied the tzelem Elokim of those who prefer to have relations with their own kind, as it is said, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God, He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). That is no difficulty! Here, Rabbi Akiva is speaking before the stabbing of Shira Banki, and there, he is speaking after the stabbing of Shira Banki.

Come and learn! Rabbi Akiva said: Why was the Third Temple destroyed? Because of religious oppression, as it is said, “This also shall be my salvation, that a hypocrite cannot come before Him” (Job 13:16). Who is a hypocrite? One who is forced to keep religious commandments he does not believe in. Rabbi Zeira responded: On the contrary! It is on account of religious freedom, and the freedom to violate Shabbat, as it is written: “Blessed is the one who does this — the person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps their hands from doing any evil” (Isaiah 56: 2). And there are those who say: Rabbi Zeira said, on the contrary, it was on account of them not taking care of each other, such that not every family could comfortably afford a meal for Shabbat. Rabbi Yossi interjected: How can that be, for I have heard that the people of Jerusalem were the most charitable. Every street was lined with another non-profit! Rather, the government had no charity, for it did not provide social services to care for its poor.

A story: Rabbi Yossi was leaning on the separation barrier. Rabbi Yosse said: Oy (woe) to me for my security, and oy to me for my morality! Oy to me for my security, for without the barrier, the terrorists would come and eat us alive! Oy to me for my morality, for maintaining the Occupation is destroying Israel’s soul! Rabbi Nahum said: Remember, not all Arabs are terrorists. Rabbi Nahum’s brother said: Remember, some Jews are terrorists. And who is the worst terrorist of all? He who expounds the benefits of conversion therapy, as it says For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). Just as God does not change His nature, so too, you should not change your nature.

Come and hear! Rabbi Yossi was thirsty after spending time at the separation barrier, so he stopped in at Beruriah’s house for a coffee. He said to her:  “Oy to me for my security, and oy to me for my morality! Oy to me for my security, for without the barrier, the terrorists would come and eat us alive! Oy to me for my morality, for maintaining the Occupation is destroying Israel’s soul.” She said to him: “Silly man. Have you not heard, ‘Do not speak lengthy conversations with women?’ You could have said that much more succinctly: ‘Israel’s “no friers” attitude of “everything belongs to me; why should I have to give it up for the common good if the person next to me isn’t” destroyed the Third Temple, for all of your answers are encompassed in my answer.'” Rabbi Yossi spilled his cup of coffee. Beruriah refused to mop it up.

About the Author
Shayna Abramson, a part-Brazilian native Manhattanite, studied History and Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Jerusalem. She has also spent some time studying Torah at the Drisha Institute in Manhattan, and has a passion for soccer and poetry. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Political Science from Hebrew University, and is a rabbinic fellow at Beit Midrash Har'el.
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