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ב"ה

Just Get Over It?

Thursday, 15 July, 2021 - 9:11 pm

The story is told that Napoleon Bonaparte was once walking by a synagogue and heard terrible wailing. He peered inside to see that the Jews were sitting on the ground and weeping, while reading from books. Upon inquiring what misfortune had befallen these people, he was informed that they were mourning the loss of their Holy Temple. Jews all over fast and pray on this sad day, when their sacred Temple was destroyed – twice.

“How long ago was this Temple destroyed?” the legendary Frenchman asked. When he was told that they were crying over an event that happened over 1700 years before, he declared, “A nation that cries and fasts for a Temple that they lost almost two millennia prior, will certainly merit to see it rebuilt!”

***

The opening words of this week’s parsha Devarim – which also serves as the beginning of the final book of the Chumash – are: “These are the words which Moshe spoke to all Israel.” Moshe goes on to lead a lengthy rebuke of the Jewish people, recapping 40 years of complaints and transgressions.

Many consider the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) to be a somber account prior to Moshe’s passing.

But a famous Chassidic saying looks at it differently.

It was only to the people of Israel that Moshe spoke of their iniquities and failings. To G-d, however, Moshe spoke only of the virtues of Israel – and justified them no matter what they did.

To the Jews, Moshe could come down hard – for their own benefit. But to G-d and to the rest of the world, the Jewish nation knew no better advocate.  Every time they sinned, Moshe went to bat for them, beseeching G-d to forgive them again and again.

***

We take our cue from Moshe and recognize that admonition is appropriate when it is directed internally. Even when it is necessary, it is done behind closed doors.

In intimate relationships, parenting and work environments, we may – at times – need to resort to harsh dialogue or discipline.  But to the rest of the world, we will remain their most ardent supporters.

***

As we approach Tisha B’Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, we look with introspection at the strife that caused the destruction of our Holy Temple.

But we also look with pride at our people and their endurance.

We recognize that “just get over it already” is not our modus operandi. And our hearts are brimming with anticipation for the day when we will once again celebrate in our rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. May it be speedily in our days.

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