The Chosen People are a somewhat battered and afflicted race of oft-scorned and rejected Semites, historically outcast and nationless, despised, persecuted by their hosts in a Diaspora of nearly two millennia, and cursed before being expelled or killed. Yet from within that fraction-of-a-fraction of humanity has arisen the solution of the great mysteries of the universe.
The seventeenth of Tammuz begins a three-week period of mourning which culminate with the ninth of Av, the fast day that commemorates the destruction of the Temple. The Three Weeks should be a time of increased Torah study and giving of charity—in keeping with the verse, “Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by charity” (Isaiah 1:27).
The Amalekites struck down not the warriors and soldiers but the weak, sick, and elderly who were traveling at the back of the pack. These were not the tactics of an army that sought to win a battle or a war but the merciless strategy of an enemy that desired to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
It appears that right now God is saying "no" to the rebuilding of the Temple. The sages have said, "Any generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt is considered as if it had destroyed it." Why has the Temple not been rebuilt? Perhaps it is because of us.
To see the final redemption, we must begin by recognizing what we are missing without it. Shabbat Chazon is an opportunity to glimpse the world as it once was and as it one day can be. Then we must heed the words of Isaiah and reflect the beauty of Torah in our lives.
It’s been fifty years since the Six-Day War, the conflict that changed the face of the Middle East, liberated Jerusalem, and announced to the world that the God of Israel is alive and well. In celebration of the anniversary, Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) has prepared a dramatized documentary film.
Little children are taught, and encouraged to recite songs like “Oh sons of Zion, Oh the most evil of creatures, Oh barbaric apes,” and avow their desire to die as suicide warriors. School textbooks indoctrinate children with anti-Semitic stereotypes and statements: “Jews are cowards whom Allah has prepared for the fires of Hell.”
Unsavory caricatures of the Pharisees leave people confused about what Yeshua might have meant when he instructed his followers to follow Pharisaic teaching. Was he being sarcastic? Rather than employing a convoluted hermeneutic to resolve this puzzle, it is more straightforward and consistent with history to accept that Yeshua upheld a theory of life and practice that aligned with Pharisaic norms.
This is, by and large, an ahistorical generation. What has gone before is ignored and of little interest. During the Three Weeks—and any time of reflection and remembrance—we do well to consider why history is, in fact, important and what is lost when we do not deem it so.
What nation has lived in every corner of the globe? What nation as a nation has been in the hands of other nations to do with as so ever they wished? Upon what other nation has G-d pronounced “I will bless those who bless you, and he who curses you will I curse”?
The idea of replacement continued under the reign of the Catholic Church, and was manifested in the Crusades, expulsions of Jews from Christian nations, and the tortures of the Inquisitions, that few know continued officially until the beginning of the nineteenth century in Brazil.
The rebels were slain and defeated everywhere they turned. A great number of them were weak and unarmed. They had their throats cut wherever they were caught. All around the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another. The ramp going up the altar ran with their blood. The dead bodies that were slain above slid down the ramp. (Josephus)