The first time I realized it was when my brother-in-law died tragically and unexpectedly a few days before his daughter was born. I realized that I would never be 100% happy again. How could I be, knowing my brother-in-law’s wife, son, and daughter would always bear the pain of his death? I knew even in the happiest moments of my life, a corner of my heart would be sad for what was now so sorely missing in the world.
That was many years ago. Since then I have sadly, as we all have, been privy to other tragic moments in life. Whether watching family or friends go through painful situations or by becoming more aware as an adult of how heavy laden the world is with tragedy, I often wonder how the world keeps going. That the world doesn’t simply implode due to the weight of sorrow it bears is surprising to me. Especially since the world has endured the heaviest weight of sorrow for almost 2000 years.
I didn’t realize it was missing. The Temple that is. Well, I take that back. I knew that the Temple was missing. What I didn’t realize for so long was that it mattered that the Temple was missing. But a renegade rabbi I was privileged to meet changed that.
The rabbi is a renegade because he has broken away from the lamenting pack. Not that the lamenting pack shouldn't be admired. As Napoleon once said, after hearing the sounds of Jews mourning and then being told what they mourned for was lost 1700 years ago, “Certainly a people which has mourned the loss of their Temple for so long, will merit to see it rebuilt!"
Let’s just say that the renegade rabbi isn’t nearly as impressed as Napoleon was with the mourning anymore. Echoing the words of a prophet, the rabbi beckons those who mourn to “Awaken, awaken! Don your strength! Arise and shine for your light has arrived!” The rabbi’s renegade logic makes sense. At least it does to me. Logic says that if the Jews really miss the Temple that much, they would get up from their mourning and build another one. Today.
But I jumped ahead in my story. As aforementioned, before I realized that the Temple needed to be rebuilt, I first had to realize that it mattered that it was missing. Maybe I’m a simpleton. Perhaps I’m too naïve. But after seeing in Scriptures that Hashem picked one spot on earth, which was the Temple, to house more of His Presence than any other place, it became quite clear that it was a pretty big deal that the Temple wasn’t here anymore. No Temple, no Divine Presence.
I’m not so simple as to not realize, that of course, Hashem’s Presence is in the world. His Presence is all around us. Creation magnifies His Presence. I’m a vessel of His Presence. Every person has the potential to house His Presence. But it’s not enough.
What this world needs is such a high dose of His Presence that mankind will literally stop everything. We will stop our stupefied mode of existence. We will stop living merely by our physical senses and begin living like who and what we really are; soul and spirit. We will be like blind men who suddenly see. We will be like crazed men who are suddenly sane. We will be like the people we were always meant to be, before. Before we got caught up in the myth of thinking we were really living without His Presence living with us. That’s the weight my heart carries now. It misses what it now knows is missing.
At a convention recently I heard a speaker comment on the “fullness” of our world. “We already have everything we need. Yet technology keeps exploding with advancements. So the trick, for example with the advent of the iPad, was to get people to miss what they didn't know they were missing. To get them to need what they didn't even know they needed yet.”
That is the ultimate “trick” with the Temple. To get people to miss what they don’t know they are missing. To get them to need what they don’t even know they need. Once that happens, three weeks will never be enough to mourn. A corner of their hearts will mourn every second of every day. And then they will realize that mourning will never be enough. They will have to build.
May we merit to be living in the days when every Jew’s heart will be “tricked” into becoming a renegade heart. A renegade heart that breaks away from the pack that only wants to mourn. A renegade heart that arises and dons strength. Strength enough to pick up the tools to build the House that will change the world.