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Perashat Debarim

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Perashat Debarim

Friday, July 24, 2015 Author: Rabbi Elie Abadie

Standing on the top mountains of Judea and Samaria seeing the Holy Land from north to south and from east to west, reminds me of the passage where G-d tells Moshe to climb up the mountain Nebo and see the land that “I have given the Children of Israel and you will not go there”. I am sure it was a beautiful sight from Mt. Nebo as it is a beautiful sight from the mountains of Judea and Samaria. The only difference is that, Moshe saw it from outside the Land and we can see it from inside the Land. One may say, that’s not much of a difference since the view is very similar. However, the feeling is different and the sanctity is different. 

As I am writing this message, I am sitting 200 feet from the Kotel, the Western Wall of the Bet Hamikdash. This Sunday will be commemorating the 1947thanniversary of the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 68 of the Common Era. Tish'a Be'Ab, in the Hebrew calendar has been slated for many misfortunes that occurred to our forefathers throughout history. The Talmud counts 5 things that befell the Jewish People on the 9th of Ab.

1.The Sin of the Spies - 3300 years ago. The spies brought a slanderous report to the Israelites in the desert; they cried in their tents. Hashem decreed that all that generation not enter the Promised Land. Rather, they will wander for forty years until they all died. 

2. Destruction of the 1st Temple (2601 years ago) under the orders of the Babylonian King Nebukhadnezzar thousands of Jews were slaughtered, enslaved or exiled to the Babylonian empire. Megilat Ekha that we read on Tish'a Be'Ab describes the story of the destruction of Jerusalem and its desolation. 

3. Destruction of the 2nd Temple (1947 years ago) by Titus, a Roman general. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed, sold into slavery or exiled. 

4. Betar was destroyed (1880 years ago), the Jews revolted again against the Roman Empire. Bar Kokhba, the leader of the Jewish people, revolted and was crushed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Over 200,000 Jews were slaughtered and their bodies left unburied.

5. The Hekhal was plowed (1883 years ago) by the Roman general Turnus Rufus.  He plowed The Temple’s holiest area and its surroundings. Jerusalem was turned into a pagan city, and renamed Aelia Capitolina. Access to Jerusalem was forbidden for Jews.

A few other terrible tragic historical events also occurred during this day. Among them, the first Crusade in the year 1095 killing 10,000 Jews, the Expulsion of the Jews from England in the year 1290, the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain took place during that day in 1492, the beginning of WWI in year 1914, deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka concentration camp begin in the year 1942, the deadly bombing of the building of the AMIA (the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina) which killed 86 people and wounded some 300 others, and a few other attacks in the year 1994.

For these, and many other reasons, we commemorate and mourn our loss, exile, expulsion, persecution and destruction of our Temples and beloved City of Jerusalem on this date. Tomorrow night I will be joining thousands of people at the Kotel truly wailing at the wall as we mourn the destruction.

And yet, as I look from my window and see the top of the Western Wall, now 1947 years later I see the beautiful wall, with so many people, young and old, men, women and children, from the many countries and communities of the world, and even gentiles, all returning to pray at the holiest site remaining from our beloved Bet Hamikdash. 

All those nations and empires who attempted to annihilate us,  are no longer here. But, we the Jewish People, have come back and have resuscitated and reclaimed this land, that G-d had promised our forefathers. As He gave it to them, so He has given it back to us.  Still, we have not yet completely been redeemed; our Bet HaMikdash has not been rebuilt and our Jewish sovereignty is being questioned. 

Let us hope and pray that if by tomorrow night our Redeemer has not come, that this may be the last Tish'a Be'Ab that we will commemorate, and this period should turn from sadness to joy and from mourning to celebrating, Amen.

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