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Engagement. Marriage. Honeymoon.

Sunday, 10 August, 2014 - 8:36 am

This is a true and amazing recently story told by O. Shaked:

I received a phone call on Sunday from “A,” one of the Iron Dome commanders who was a student of mine six years ago. I was glad he called. “Where can I study Torah in Ramat Gan?” he asked. I was baffled because I knew him to be far from Torah and mitzvot. "I'm going to be released in a couple of months," he continued, "and I want to study in a Yeshiva: I saw the Almighty with my own eyes!”

“What happened?” I asked.

“A Missile was fired from Gaza. The Iron Dome can detect where the missile is going to fall within a 200 meter radius. This particular Missile was heading to the Azrieli Towers, and hundreds could have paid with their lives!

"We sent the first “dome” and it missed. Then the second, and then the third domes missed as well. This is a very rare occurrence. To date, only two other such cases have occurred. I was in shock! We had four seconds until there was no way back and the missile would definitely hit. We had already informed and dispatched emergency services, the police and the fire department, to the location.

"Suddenly, without any preliminary design from the Iron Dome system (which calculates the possible wind currents, etc.), a strong eastern wind blew–a wind that we have no idea where it came from–and cast the missile right into the sea.

We were all in shock!!! I stood up and started screaming, ‘There is a G-d! There is a G-d! There is a G-d!!!' I saw this miracle with my own eyes. No one told me about it, it was not reported to me. I saw the Hand of Hashem fling the missile into the sea!

"Of course this was not reported for security reasons, but it’s enough to witness the miracles with our own eyes to know there is Hashem (G-d). I ran to one of the religious soldiers and asked him to help me put on Tefillin. I took it upon myself to keep Shabbat, and that was the very best Shabbat I have ever experienced.”

This is what he told me. I was so excited, and his story brought a tear to my eye. "Praiseworthy are you," I said to him, “that you merited to witness this incident and to understand that it’s from Hashem!"

There is a strange tale related in the Talmud:

On the day that the Holy Temple was destroyed, a Jew was plowing his field when his cow suddenly mooed loudly. An Arab was passing by and heard the mooing of the cow. This Arab understood the language of animals. The Arab said to the Jew, "Son of Judah! Unyoke your cow, free the stake of your plow, for your Holy Temple has now been destroyed!"

The cow then lowed a second time. Said the Arab to the Jew, "Son of Judah! Yoke your cow, reset the stake of your plow, for the Redeemer has now been born...."

What does this mean? If Moshiach was born when the Temple was destroyed in the year 70 CE, where is he? Where has he been hiding all these years? How old is he today?

We can understand this through yet another fascinating question raised in our literature.

It is a well known dictum in Judaism that G-d is, so to speak, “bound” by Jewish law. It is a biblical prohibition to destroy the Holy Temple or any part of it. It is similarly forbidden to destroy any synagogue, which is a home of G-d.

Indeed, even during the tragic expulsion of Gush Katif in the summer of 2005, notwithstanding the cruelty of banishing people from the homes and businesses they built with sweat, blood, and tears, only allowing Gaza to become Hamastan, the Israeli Government did not have the audacity to destroy the synagogues there. In fact, many remember the horrific images of the Arabs desecrating and burning them after the expulsion.

How, then, could G-d destroy the Holy Temple—a clear violation of Jewish law?

To be sure, the first Temple was destroyed by the armies of Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar, and the second Temple by the Roman legions of Vespasian. Yet G-d does take full responsibility for the deed. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah, "Behold, I shall dispatch the nations of the north...and Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, My servant, and I shall bring them upon this land and its inhabitants."

The answer is profound. There is only one way in which it is permissible to destroy a synagogue: When the purpose is to rebuild the synagogue in the very same location. Why? "The demolition is itself an act of building." When you are destroying a synagogue to rebuild it elsewhere, you are doing an act of destruction, even if your intention is to rebuild it elsewhere. But if you are destroying a synagogue in order to rebuild it in the very place it stood previously, then the very demolition is not an act of destruction, but rather the beginning of renovation. All renovations consist of two phases: the demolition of the old and the construction of the new. You can’t build the new if you don’t remove the old.

So it was with G-d's destruction of the Holy Temple: The demolition itself was the beginning of a renovation of the Third Temple which would be built in its very space. What was missing with these Temples? The Zohar, the “Bible” of Kabbalah, explains that the first two Temples were edifices built by human hands, and thus subject to the mortality of everything human. Just as man is by definition limited, all of his accomplishments and feats are limited, and hence they were both destroyed. Only by destroying the human Temples was the groundwork laid for a Temple that defies the limits of human mortality, a Temple which is built by G-d Himself, and therefore indestructible.

The demolition itself, then, was the first phase in the construction of the third and eternal Temple.

Yet, it seems that G-d is a classic Jewish contractor. It is taking Him a while to get the job completed. The old structure was demolished; the erection of the new one is taking far too much time.

Let us apply this idea to our own lives and employ it with three examples.

Engagement. Marriage. Honeymoon. The first years, all is bliss. Suddenly, your marriage experiences cracks. Frustration and disengagement replace the romantic bliss. The marriage is crumbling, the future is uncertain.

How do you deal with the cracks?

You can see them as the end of a bright and blissful era. Now, boredom, anger and mistrust will come to replace the romance and affection of the past. But there is another deeper and truer perspective: The cracks are the beginning of the renovation of the marriage. Renovation, as explained above, by definition consists of two phases: demolition and rebuilding. The cracks in your marriage are what allow you to transform your marriage from a human temporary structure into a Divine and eternal structure.

Now you are called upon to rebuild your relationship and cast it upon new foundations. Now it is time to recreate your relationship as a Divine institution. It is not only that your hearts are drawn to each other, for that can change quite easily. Rather, you are both committed to the sacred and Divine marriage, transcending our own egos and our own subjective emotions. We realize that there is something Divine at stake in our relationship and we are committed to this sacred structure. The very cracks in a relationship are thus redefined as the beginning of its renovation.

A young chemist had been working for some time at developing a new bonding agent, a glue. After years of hardship, the work was complete. He tried it out. It did not stick. What is the use of glue that does not stick? Most people would have called this a failure, a disappointment. Time wasted. Effort spent in vain. The young chemist thought otherwise.

Instead of deciding that his work was a failure, he asked, “What if it is a success? What if I have discovered a solution? The only thing left to do is to find the problem.”

He refused to give up. He kept asking himself, “What is the use of an underachieving adhesive?” Eventually he found it. It became a huge commercial success. They're little and they stick—but not too hard. This is how the “Post-It” notes were invented!

When something bad happens we can see it as failure, or, like the chemist, we can make it a success. Whatever our fate, we always have a choice between seeing it as a crushing tragedy devoid of meaning, or as a tragedy which contains the seeds of something profoundly positive.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchov said that this Shabbat is called Chazon–the vision. This Shabbat, we can see [a vision of] the third Holy Temple. In gazing at the very destruction, we can see the beginning of the renovation of the third Temple.

It is this perspective that captures the underlying “plot” behind Jewish history. It was this vision that allowed our people to emerge from every crisis stronger. They refused to give up their belief that darkness was heralding a new dawn, and that the cracks were an invitation for a new light to come in.

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky

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