Evoking the Destruction at the Inauguration of the Sanctuary

It is written, “These are the accounts of the Sanctuary, the Sanctuary of Testimony, which were counted at Moshe’s command. The labor of the Levites was under the authority of Itamar, son of Aaron the kohen” (Shemot 38:21).

At first glance, we may ask why the Torah found it necessary to mention the term “Sanctuary” twice in the same verse. Rashi views this repetition as an allusion to the two Temples that would be destroyed over the course of the generations, for the Jewish people did not strive to respect the laws and precepts they had received during their journeys in the desert and at the giving of the Torah. Since the Children of Israel scorned His mitzvot, Hashem poured out His anger upon wood and stone by destroying both Temples. Nevertheless, the Rebbe of Sanz asks why it was precisely at this exalted time, as Israel was inaugurating the Sanctuary and was at the pinnacle of joy, that the Torah evoked the destruction of both Temples, thus diminishing the joy of the people. Indeed, this message could have been transmitted to the Children of Israel at a more appropriate time! Why announce the future destruction of two Temples and mar the joy of the people while they were immersed in such intense rejoicing? To answer this question, let us first underline that the term Mishkan (“Sanctuary”) is formed by the same letters as nimshach (“continuity”). This teaches us that it is incumbent on every Jew to ensure that the Torah is maintained for three generations, and to adhere to the traditions of his fathers. Each of us is similar to the Sanctuary, for just as G-d made His Presence dwell in it, likewise He resides in each Jew who adopts the appropriate lifestyle and who honors Torah and mitzvot. Since the Shechinah [Divine Presence] is found within each Jew, he must feel responsible and perpetuate the traditions of his fathers by fulfilling mitzvot. When men scorn the commandments of Hashem and abandon the path of their fathers, the Shechinah leaves them as well as the Temple, thus precipitating its destruction.

Hashem wanted to convey this to the Children of Israel precisely during the inauguration of the Sanctuary, so that they would not grow proud as a result of their exaltation. On the contrary, evoking the destruction of both Temples – a truly painful thought – would encourage them to apply G-d’s precepts with even greater intensity and to perpetuate the traditions of their fathers, who devoted their entire lives to the fulfillment of Hashem’s word.

The same applies to a groom who evokes the memory of the Temple’s destruction as he is standing beneath the chuppah, at the pinnacle of joy, ready to establish his home. This reminder teaches the young couple that if they want to build an exceptional home that is solidly founded for many years to come on the basis of love, mutual understanding, peace, and respect, then they must establish it according to the ways of the holy Torah. If not, their home is destined for destruction, G-d forbid, just as both Temples were destroyed because the Jewish people did not continue to observe the Torah for three generations, but turned away from G-d’s commandments. Once as I was staying in Lyon, France, a woman came to tell me that her mother had not had any children for numerous years. In her distress, she had gone to see the tzaddik Rabbi Haim Pinto and asked him for a blessing to have a child. To her great astonishment, the Rav asked her for a specific amount of money, multiplied threefold, so that his blessing would be fulfilled by the merit of the mitzvah of tzeddakah. When the woman asked him about the threefold amount, he said that he wanted to include the woman’s daughter and granddaughter in the blessing that he would give to her. Complying with the tzaddik’s request, this woman gave him the stipulated amount. Thank G-d, she merited having a child not long afterwards. A few years later, all the newspaper headlines announced that a plane traveling from Lyon to Strasbourg had crashed, leaving but one survivor. It was a great miracle, for this survivor, a certain Mrs. Levy, was the woman who had come to see me along with her mother, who was telling me this story. She admitted that she now understands why the tzaddik had asked for the threefold amount. This money was destined to ensure her survival, as well as that of her daughter and the granddaughter she would have. In fact what benefit could there be in having a child, if that child were to die a generation later? Hence the tzaddik asked for the redemption price of all three generations.

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