In the Jewish Calendar, we are starting the annual 9 days of mourning this Friday, July 29, culminating in a fast day on Sunday, August 7, called Tishah B’av. The mourning is on the destruction …
In the Jewish Calendar, we are starting the annual 9 days of mourning this Friday, July 29, culminating in a fast day on Sunday, August 7, called Tishah B’av. The mourning is on the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem and subsequent exiles and persecution.
These days of mourning are a bit challenging for contemporary Jews for good reason. We live in a time with no persecution and relatively little hate. We are very fortunate, and we should always be grateful to the Orchestrator of all, and to the societies who make it happen. We are also very fortunate to see the State of Israel prosperous, both, spiritually and materialistically.
In truth, there are problems that are not to be waved away. In NYC, there were just too many stories of real attacks on Jews in the last few years. Many Jews don’t travel the subways anymore. However, we can’t think about it outside the context of history and see that we all live, Thank G-d, in very good times.
However, this should not mar the significance of the mourning period. A basic tenet in Jewish teachings is of world perfection. The Torah teaches us that by being righteous a person lives a great life and also merits the world to come. But that’s not all. Eventually society will reach perfection and this earthly world will be perfect. This is what the Messianic age is in Judaism.
This Jewish teaching spilled out into the world about 2,000 years ago through Christianity and later by Islam. Eventually the vision of world perfection has been part and parcel of the civil rights movements and is today a drive to a lot of good that’s happening in the world.
Inside us all there is a belief that the world should be perfect, and many believe that the world will be perfect. We each have different opinions of what it means and how perfection looks, however this universal belief is telling.
The most important part that we are looking out for a brighter future is that people’s spirit will be elevated. The pull to do good and the pull to not do evil should become natural for us. When we are doing good deeds every day, we bring this more and more into the world. But we are waiting for a time that it should be our natural selves and it would be much more real.
That’s what the Temple signified. It was a place of “dwelling for G-d”. Which means that G-dliness and righteousness lived in this world. It wasn’t “out of this world” to do good and to be good.
Every good thing that we do brings in more G-dliness into this world and makes the world a better place. It is not institutions like the U.N. or Democracies that will make the world perfect. It is our spirit to do good and be good that brings more soul into the world. Hopefully our refined spirit will be reflected in those institutions and will further generate good deeds, but it starts with every person within their surroundings.
I like to quote the Chofetz Chaim, a great sage from the past century, “a person has to be like the sun: To shine, to make warm, and to make others grow.”
This light will spread on the entire world, speedily in our days. Amen!
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