Written by Rabbi Gershon Avtzon
We all know the story of Yosef and his brothers. In short: His brothers were jealous of him and they sold him to Egypt where miraculously he became the viceroy of the country. At the end of the story, all of B’nei Yisroel came down to Egypt and Yosef provided for them. One of the most emotional moments of the saga is the first official meeting of Yosef and his brother Binyamin.
The Torah tells us: “And he fell on his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept, and Binyamin wept on his neck.” Now, it is expected that two brothers that do not have a mother and only share each other would cry when they finally meet after so many years of separation. Yet, Rashi gives us a deeper reason for their tears:
And he fell on his brother Binyamin’s neck and wept: For the two sanctuaries which were destined to be in Binyamin’s territory and would ultimately be destroyed. And Binyamin wept on his neck: For the Mishkan of Shiloh, which was destined to be in Yoseph’s territory yet would ultimately be destroyed.
The obvious question is: If each brother had destruction in their territory, why did they not cry for themselves? Why did they only cry for the other?
The Rebbe explains: Crying doesn’t stop destruction, it only helps deal with the pain that the destruction brings. Crying soothes us and makes us complacent. When one has destruction in their own territory, they are not allowed to cry; they must stop the destruction and begin construction. Soldiers will tell you that they only cried for their friends that were killed at their side when the battle was over. During the battle, there is no time or capacity for tears, as the battle must be fought and won.
This is why Yosef did not cry for his own loss but only cried for Binyamin’s loss, and vice versa. Over their own Beis HaMikdash that was being destroyed they weren’t allowed to cry; they had to rebuild! Only over a Beis HaMikdash which is “out of their territory,” and which they cannot fix and rebuild, can they cry.
During the “three weeks and nine days” there are many laws of mourning for the Beis HaMikdash. There are many of us that are even moved to tears when we think about the loss of what we had. Yet the Rebbe wants us to remember that “the Beis Hamikdash is being destroyed in our territory!” We know that the Rebbe would quote from the Yerushalmi, “Kol mi shelo nivneh Beis HaMikdash beyomov, ke’ilu hecherivoi – Whoever did not merit that the Beis HaMikdash was rebuilt in his day, it is as if he destroyed it.” Now is not the time to cry, it’s the time to rebuild! The Rebbe does not want us crying, the Rebbe wants us battling and building!
How do we build?
The Rebbe quotes the Midrash: G-d revealed the details of the structure of the Beis HaMikdash of the Era of the Redemption to the prophet Yechezkel, and told him: “Tell the people of Israel of the House… and measure the design.” Our Sages relate that Yechezkel replied to Him: “Master of the Earth, why are You telling me to go and tell Israel the form of the House… They are now in exile in the land of our enemies. Is there anything they can do [about it]? Let them be until they return from the exile. Then, I will go and inform them.”
G-d answered: “Should the construction of My House be ignored because My children are in exile?”
G-d declared: “The study of the Torah’s [design of the Beis HaMikdash] can be equated to its [actual] construction. Go, tell them to study the form of the Beis HaMikdash. As a reward for their study and their occupation with it, I will consider it as if they actually built the Beis HaMikdash.”
Implicit in the wording used in this passage is that the study of the laws of the Beis HaMikdash has ramifications that extend far beyond the ordinary sphere of intellectual activity. From the description of this study as “the building of My House,” we can infer that through such study, a person fulfills his obligation to build the Beis HaMikdash.
Yet, as mentioned last week, the Rebbe wants us to take a step further and higher with our learning of these laws. In his holy words: Since we are standing on the threshold of Redemption which will arrive imminently, it follows that the study of the Laws of building the Temple this year must be of an entirely different order. First and foremost, this study must be permeated with the certain awareness and full recognition that this study is not merely an “academic exercise,” but it is relevant for practical use for the very next moment. For indeed, the “Future Sanctuary that we are anticipating has already been built and is fully developed (above and will thus imminently) be revealed and arrive from Heaven” instantaneously!
The attitude towards the study of these laws should be analogous to what was discussed in the recent past, that the special increase in the study of the teachings of Torah concerning Redemption and Moshiach should not simply serve as a catalyst to hasten the coming of Moshiach and the Redemption. Rather this study should enable us to live with and thrive on matters of Moshiach and Redemption. We should “live with the time” of the Messianic Era. This can be attained when one’s intellect is filled with the comprehension of the Torah concepts of Moshiach and Redemption. This intellectual awareness then extends to and permeates one’s emotions, and then translates into thought, speech and action consistent with this very auspicious period of time when we stand on the threshold of Redemption and we are able to point with our finger “Behold he (King Moshiach) has come.”