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A D'Var Torah from Rabbi Josh Hearshen

07/20/2020 12:11:05 PM


We are in the midst of the “three weeks.” These are designated each year as a time of mourning and grieving the tragedies that have befallen our people through our rich history. While we mourn and grieve all of these individual tragedies, the original tragedy which is recognized each year is the destruction of the Temple.

I have often explained to people that we sometimes spend too much time talking about the destruction and not enough time talking about that which was lost. After all, it is impossible to truly mourn when we do not have recognition of what it is that we are mourning. The Talmud discussed, at length, the virtues of the Temple. It is understood to have been the center of the world. It housed the foundation stone that was believed that if it was moved, the entire world would be sucked up into it and destroyed. That stone was believed to be the site of the binding of Isaac and the one that was used by Jacob when he slept and had his dream of a ladder rooted on earth and reaching the heavens. In the bible, we learn that David was not allowed to build the Temple because he was a man of war and so it was his son that was allowed to build God’s home here on earth (although God does not dwell in any singular place). Our literary tradition does not end with the Talmud and the various collections of Midrashim. It extends to our story tradition. We have a rich tradition of stories that have been passed down through the generations and as such we have a beautiful one about why the field that was chosen by Solomon was chosen.

This is a summary of that story that I have put together:
Among the great achievements of Solomon, first place must be assigned to the superb Temple built by him. He was long in doubt as to where to build it. A heavenly voice directed him to go to Mount Zion at night, to a field owned by two brothers jointly. One of the brothers was a bachelor and poor, the other was blessed both with wealth and a large family of children. It was harvesting time. Under cover of night, the poor brother kept adding to the other’s heap of grain, for although he was poor, he thought his brother needed more on account of his large family. The rich brother, in the same secret way, added to the poor brother’s pile thinking that though he had a family to support, the other was without means (to support himself). This happened for many nights over and over again. Since every morning they both discovered equal piles and both desired that the other have more for their own secret reasons. One night they bumped into one another while secretly transferring the grain and they both were shocked. Immediately they dropped what was in their arms and hugged each other.


This story tells us about what we can mourn. Today, all around us, we see a certain lacking of love and caring for the well being of others. We see people walking by while others in need go without. We see this through the Pandemic and through things outside of the Pandemic. The reality is that we need to build a world and community where we all selflessly care about the needs of others. We mourn all that has been lost and at the same time we prayfor all that we can rebuild.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Josh Hearshen

Fri, December 4 2020 18 Kislev 5781