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Reconstruction

On the 10th of Tevet we commemorate the beginning of a siege on Jerusalem which lasted for three and a half years, culminating with the breaching of the walls and the destruction of the Temple on the 9th of Av. It is a day when the events leading up to exile were set in motion, and therefore we fast each year on this day. However, this day also has a deeper significance. Chassidic teachings explain that G-d would never have allowed His home, the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple), to be destroyed, unless it was to be rebuilt bigger and better than before. Destroying the Temple was similar to tearing down a house to build a bigger one in its place. Thus, the 10th of Tevet does not only mark the beginning of the exile but also the beginning of Redemption.

*

The Beit Hamikdash is where the Divine presence rests, where G-d’s revelation in this world is at its peak, and from where inspiration spreads forth to the entire world. During the first and second Temple era, the light revealed in the Temple was limited in intensity, and thus did not leave a permanent mark on the world. In the Holy Temple itself, there were regular revealed miracles, but this revelation did not extend past the walls of the Temple.

Inside the Temple, it was easy to sense the Divine presence. Outside its walls, the world ran according to the rules of nature, and the presence of G-d was not readily apparent.

**

The ultimate purpose of creation is to transform the physical world into a place where G-d can feel at home. As the Midrash writes, “G-d desired a dwelling in the lowest world.” It was not enough for G-d to rest in the Temple – He wanted us to make the entire world into His home. In the third Temple, the G-dly light will shine and permeate throughout the world. Wherever we go there will be a palpable sense of G-dliness.

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To reach this level of revelation, the old Temple could not remain in its old state. It needed to be destroyed, and then the Jewish people, and the world at large, would go through a process of refinement and elevation, leading to the Redemption.

The destruction and exile are not merely a punishment for our bad deeds. They serve as a preparation for the final Redemption, when the Temple will be rebuilt with greater glory and grandeur than before – and will last permanently. If G-d had wanted it, He could have brought us to the Redemption without our having to go through exile. However, the reward is commensurate with our efforts, and the ultimate Redemption will be on a scale that will completely overwhelm the suffering of the past.

On the 10th of Tevet we mourn the terrible destruction, yet within the mourning there is a seed of joy. The destruction and exile are part of a process that we must go through to attain the true Redemption.

We have strong faith that this year by the 10th of Tevet we will have the ultimate revelation of Moshiach and we will no longer need to fast. When the Holy Temple is rebuilt, it will become clear to all that the events of that day served a higher purpose, and it will be transformed from a day of mourning to celebration.

 

 


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