This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Devarim (5760)
Parshat Devorim is always read on the Shabbos before the 9th of Av - the date that both Holy Temples were destroyed.
The story is told that when Napoleon saw Jews mourning on Tisha B'Av, he was so deeply impressed that he said, "A people that can mourn for a building that was destroyed over 1,500 years ago must be eternal".
Napoleon was a very evil man. Besides being a sworn atheist, he killed millions of people in his desire to rule the world, but it seems that even he (like Bilam thousands of years earlier) couldn't deny the truth.
But at second glance, it's not really so clear. Why DO we mourn?
Today we have returned to the land of Israel and have built thousands of new buildings! Why mourn about what happened to one building almost 2000 years ago?
Furthermore, even when the Temple was standing it was dedicated to the slaughtering, and sacrificing of animals. Why should we mourn for such a primitive thing?
And finally, the Temple was destroyed because of our sins. How can we mourn and expect that it will stand today when we are at an all-time spiritual low?
To answer these questions, we must first understand why G-d made the creation.
The Baal Shem Tov explained that G-d's real purpose for making (and constantly renewing) the world is that He wants to be revealed here.
This is also the main theme of the Torah.
G-d commanded Adam to "work" in Gan Eden, Avraham to sacrifice Issac, the Jewish nation to build a tabernacle, to enter the land of Israel and to do all the commandments all for the same reason; in order to reveal His Oneness here in this physical world.
And the epitome of this revelation was in the Holy Temple.
Therefore the Temple was made totally of rocks, (unlike the tabernacle which had wooden walls and a ceiling of animal skins) the lowest of physical substances.
Similarly the Sacrifices require us to serve G-d with our lowest faculties. (Because essentially it makes no real sense why G-d would command us to kill animals, and how this atones for our sins).
This is the uniqueness (and the purpose) of the Jewish People. That they, and only they, can reveal the Creator in even the lowest aspects of His creation.
But with the destruction of the Temple this uniqueness became concealed; the Jewish people became a bit more like everyone else.
And that is why we mourn.
We mourn the loss of our feeling and our sensitivity to G-d. Today the insensitivity is so deep, that there are Jews that announce that G-d does not exist, the Torah is not true, and there is even no such thing as The Jewish People! (As we see today in Israel)
But really this descent is something like a man crouching in order to jump higher; it is intended only to bring a higher revelation....the Moshiach.
The Moshiach will reveal, for the first time in history, that this physical world is incomparably higher and more spiritual than even the highest levels of heaven! (The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that before he was three years old, he was already consumed with the vision that the Moshiach will arrive and make sense out of these thousands of years of Jewish pain, suffering and unanswered prayers).
That is the connection to Parshat Devorim; in this week's section the Torah is explaining to us how to bring Moshiach.
Here Moshe begins preparing the Jewish people for a great spiritual decent; the entering into the land of Israel.
The nation that he was addressing had neither experienced the miraculous Exodus from Egypt nor seen the revelation of G-d at Mount Sinai. They were not to receive free bread from heaven or be surrounded with protective clouds. In Israel they would have to work for food and even fight their enemies.
However Moshe comforted them; this descent was for an elevation; the Bait HaMikdosh would be built and G-d would be permanently revealed in this world.
But there was a catch. It all depended on them following the words of the Prophets.
When G-d Himself spoke at Mount Sinai, or when Moshe reported what G-d said, everyone listened.
But that is not what G-d created the Jews for. He created them to transform a real physical world, replete with real problems and real challenges, into a paradise of G-dliness; to enter Israel, he and the lesser prophets, like Yeshiah, Yermiyahu and Yona would demand from them much more effort and faith.
That is why in the entire book of Dvorim it does not say even once "G-d spoke to Moshe, saying:", the whole book is Moshe speaking. In order to prepare the Jews for the new type of prophecy, they would be required to follow in Israel to listen to PEOPLE.
But it didn't work, the people shunned the Prophets and the Temples were destroyed.
The Maggid of Mezritch (successor of the Besht) explained that this is the reason that the commandment to heed the Prophets is written twice in the Torah (Shmos 19:9 and Dvorim 18:15) because it is human nature to say:
"Of course we will follow every word of G-d's prophets.....but Yirmiyahu?! Why, he is just a person like me! Why should I heed him?" So we need to repeat the commandment so they will listen to SPECIFIC prophets.
And it is never too late.
In our generation we have a true prophet. A Jew with all the properties that Maimonides says are necessary, and that never erred even once in his predictions.
In 1991, in a now famous speech, the Lubavitcher Rebbe told his followers to advertise the fact that "Behold, the Moshiach is coming!" He declared that we should learn as much as possible about Moshiach, so we can prepare for him and do all in our power to hasten his arrival. We should try to help others a bit more, to give a bit more charity, teach more Torah, and have more brotherly love.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Baditchev said that on this Shabbos before Tisha B’Av, Shabbos "Chazon" (lit. "Vision") when we read the Haftorah "Chazon Yishayahu", it is possible to see a vision of the Third Temple.
And the Midrash says that on the Tisha B'Av that the Temple was destroyed the Moshiach was born (and this repeats itself every 9th of Av).
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