Demolition Derby

Friday, 21 July, 2023 - 7:33 am

Some people enjoy demolition as a sport. Demolition Derby survives to this day as a last car standing thriller.

And, some sports enjoy demolition. A new coach might come into an organization and demolish the roster, getting rid of players deemed subpar. The team may not perform well in the short-term. But, the hope is that a turnaround will benefit the team in the long-term.


This coming week we will observe the darkest day on the Jewish calendar – Tisha B’Av – which commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem.   This day embodies the exile and suffering that Jews have endured for nearly two millennia.

While it’s easy to blame the Babylonians and Romans for our current predicament, Jewish tradition maintains that everything ultimately happens by Divine decree.  In fact, Yirmiyahu/Jeremiah declares in the name of G-d, “Behold, I send and I will take all the families of the north, says the L-rd, and to Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I will bring them upon this land and upon its inhabitants and upon all these nations around, and I will destroy them and make them for a desolation and for a hissing and for perpetual ruins” (25:9).

In other words, G-d Himself decided to cause the destruction of the Holy Temples.  That’s very perplexing. In addition to the fundamental question of why G-d would want to do that, His own Torah he forbids us from razing the Temple (and by extension all synagogues). We are not even allowed to remove or destroy one stone from the Temple! How then can G-d – our role model and the originator of Torah – destroy the entire Temple?!


Our Sages teach that the only toleration for demolishing even a part of the Holy Temple (or a shul) is in order to build a bigger one in its place. Then the act of razing is not an act of destruction at all. Rather it is a step in the building process.  It may appear as a step backward, but truthfully it’s a step forward.

We certainly can relate. The Chabad Jewish Center in Boise has been under construction for a year. Our community has had reduced use or no access at all to our communal and sacred hub. We have utilized temporary spaces and managed with less.

But, we recognize that this is not really a step back. It’s part of the process of building. We will soon marvel at the spacious and beautiful center that we will call home. It will be a true upgrade.

When G-d affected the destruction of the Temple it can only be that His intention was to build a bigger and better one in its place. As the end of this week’s Haftorah attests, “And I will restore your judges as at first and your counselors as in the beginning; afterwards you shall be called City of Righteousness, Faithful City. Zion shall be redeemed through justice and her penitent through righteousness.”

G-d doesn’t practice Demolition Derby just for kicks. He has grand plans of reconstruction. At nearly 2000 years it’s high time G-d finish what He started and rebuild the Beit Hamikdash now!

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