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Friday
Aug022019

KER A VELT HAINT!

The Beis HaMikdash was not destroyed in a single moment in time, close to 2000 years ago, in the wake of which there are the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av … No! The destruction of the Beis HaMikdash is a daily occurrence! * What is the proper approach to such a horrible, ongoing calamity? 

By Rabbi Boruch Merkur

When I heard the Rebbe scream, it shook me to the core. Ker a velt haint! My entire world quaked. 

It is happening again. The earth beneath our feet is trembling from the Footsteps of Moshiach. There is real transformation happening, beginning with each individual. 

G-d wears T’fillin in praise of the Jewish people. “Who is like Your people, Yisroel, one nation (i.e., a unique nation) on earth” is written in them. We keep Hashem’s Mitzvos and bind ourselves to Him with T’fillin, proclaiming: “Listen, Yisroel, G-d our L-rd, G-d is one.” G-d calls us “unique.” We are the channel for His Presence, His unity,  on “earth.” And we reciprocate, uniting with G-d with self-sacrifice and love: “You shall love G-d…with all your might.”

Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk writes that the recital of Shma should be with the intent of sacrificing one’s life to Hashem, even imagining being tortured, G-d forbid, for refusing to deny G-d’s unity.

All his days, Rebbi Akiva longed for the opportunity to fulfill the Mitzva of self-sacrifice – not just in thought, but in action. He prolonged the word “echad” [G-d is “one”] until his soul expired. (Brachos 61b) 

According to the Arizal, Rebbi Yishmoel Kohen Gadol, also one of the Ten Martyrs, was a reincarnation of Yosef HaTzaddik, which was apparent in his beautiful appearance. Rebbi Yishmoel’s gruesome death atoned for Yosef: 

In her heart, the daughter of the wicked tyrant … lusted Rebbi Yishmoel’s beauty. She requested from her father that he spare Rebbi Yishmoel’s life, but the wicked man refused. She countered by asking for the skin of his face to be flayed off [to keep for her amusement]. The tyrant didn’t hesitate to acquiesce. When they reached the place of the T’fillin [above his forehead], Rebbi Yishmoel let out a bitter cry to his Creator.” (Musaf Prayer of Yom Kippur) 

It was a scream that caused the entire world to quake and the earth crumbled to pieces. (Kinos 22) 

This is a person who did not make a peep until that moment, having been tortured beyond imagine. The “brilliant, shining Mitzva” of T’fillin is G-d’s true glory – “Who is like Your people, Yisroel” – and now it was desecrated…

***

“Ker a velt!” is the cry that inspired me, from the Rebbe’s famous talk of 5744 (1984):

The Rogatchover Gaon argues that the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash is not just an historic event that is now observed through mourning the ancient catastrophe. It is, rather, an event that is ongoing, perpetual. 

The Beis HaMikdash was not destroyed in a single moment in time, close to 2000 years ago, in the wake of which there are the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av, and the like … The Rogatchover says: No! The destruction of the Beis HaMikdash is a daily occurrence!

Every single day there must therefore be the cry of “ad masai?! – is this exile ever going to end?!” …

To back up his position, the Rogatchover cites an explicit teaching in Talmud Yerushalmi: “Each generation that does not build (the Beis HaMikdash) in its days is considered as if that generation destroyed it”! (Yoma 1:1; Midrash T’hillim mizmor 137, end).

It has been more than 1900 years since the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed. Up until now – Thursday of Parshas Pinchas, after T’fillas Maariv – the Beis HaMikdash has not been rebuilt. The lesson here is to acknowledge that the outcry for redemption must be as if on Thursday of Parshas Pinchas the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed! [That is, the cry of “ad masai” erupts in outrage for the Holy Temple’s ongoing devastation] …

True, farbrengens are being held to celebrate Yom HaGeula, etc. [Yud-Beis Tammuz, when the Rebbe Rayatz was freed from exile in 5687 (1927), as well as his birthday. So how can we celebrate redemption on the one hand and cry out about exile on the other?]

But Jews are already used to the call to “nimna ha’nimnaos,” to embrace coexisting mutual exclusives. One is required [for example, to be a living person in this world] to be a soul in a body. At the same time he is told that “al karcha (aval) ata chai – you live (albeit) against your will” – it must be “al karcha.” It is also incumbent to fulfill the Mitzvos of “v’nishmartem m’od l’nafshoseichem – to take great caution to preserve your life” [by avoiding dangers, etc.] with joy and gladness of heart. At the same time, one must rise to a state of “b’chol m’odecha – all your might” [pushing yourself with mesirus nefesh, self-sacrifice, beyond mortal limits, certainly beyond your comfort zone] … Thus, the neshama is compelled to maintain its presence within the body merely “al karcha,” yet  the person sustains the connection of soul and body with joy and gladness – not succumbing to literal soul expiration.

Since Jews cried out “ad masaiyesterday, and since the day before they cried “ad masai”; since every day prior to that they cried “ad masai,” yet the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed thereafter, rachmana litzlan, today in the morning or this afternoon – it is understood that there must be the outcry of “ad masai now!

As stated above, this is not a p’shetl [i.e., its not just a clever thought derived from Torah] but a law in Torah. The Torah says that for one who does not build the Beis HaMikdash in his days it is as if this [calamity] happened…

Consider this. When the Beis HaMikdash is being destroyed, and a Jew stands there – a “tough Jew,” a Jew of stone with a heart of stone – and he sees how the Beis HaMikdash is being destroyed in his days, he turns the world upside-down [to stop it]! The Torah of truth and the Torah of life teaches us a fundamental lesson in life: Turn the world upside-down today! Ker a velt haint!

(From the address of 12 Tammuz 5744)

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