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Monday, July 16, 2018 4 Av 5778


The first Lubavitch/Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the Tanya and Code of Jewish Law, once remarked that a Jew must "live with the times." His son explained the meaning: A Jew must live with the Torah portion of the week - i.e., he must assimilate the lessons of the weekly Torah portion
The Three Weeks / D'varim
Go North!
In the opening passages of the Book of D’varim, which we begin reading this week, Moses recounts the events of the past forty years the Jewish nation sojourned in the desert. Moses utilized this opportunity before his passing to rebuke his people for all of their transgressions.
In one of his descriptions of the past, Moses states how G-d says to him: “You have circled this mountain long enough! Turn northward.”
Moses’ final words uttered on the threshold of the Jewish nation’s entry into the Promised Land portends our own challenges as we stand poised to enter the Era of the Final redemption, after traversing the long and arduous exile. Their/our journey can be likened to going in circles.
A mountain in Torah literature conveys a double metaphor. On the one hand it is a symbol of the obstructive power of our internal impulse for evil; known as the Yetzer Hara (Talmud, Sukka 52a). Paradoxically, the term mountain is also employed in Biblical and Talmudic literature as a reference to the Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Temple (Talmud, Brachos 48b).
And it is concerning both of these metaphors that G-d tells us through Moses to cease circling the mountain and go north!
In the context of our evil impulse, we are always going in circles and never succeeding in conquering our evil impulse. It is as if we are circling the enemy and perhaps even eluding their arrows, but try as we may, we cannot surmount, vanquish or conquer the mountainous obstruction.
As we approach the Messianic Age, the Torah exhorts us to cease struggling with evil in the conventional way of trying to contain it. Stop circling the enemy. It is now high time for us to go north. North in Hebrew—tzafon—also contains the meaning of “hidden.” We must now reach into our subconscious spiritual reservoir to elicit deeper and more formidable resources that empower us to successfully scale and conquer the mountain.
But the “mountain” here is also an allusion to the Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Temple that was built on a mountain as is frequently referred to as G-d’s mountain in Biblical and Talmudic literature. Circling the mountain in this context is a suggestion of our inability to realize our quest for the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. Every year since the Temple was destroyed, close to two thousand years ago, we “surround the mountain.” On the one hand we are obsessed with it. We make mention of it in our prayers countless times. We talk about it, we learn its laws and underlying philosophy, we yearn to see it in its glory. However, we are still going in circles. We have not been able to conquer that mountain and make the Third Temple a physical and palpable reality!
Here too, the Torah tells us that the way to achieve our goal and finally realize two thousand years of yearning is to “go north.”
North, again, means looking for the hidden dimension of our own souls where our own personal Temple exists. The challenge is to make the subconscious Sanctuary which is deeply embedded within our soul a conscious part of our personality and our lives.
This week, when Tisha B’Av—the anniversary of the destruction of the two Temples—falls on Shabbat, it is the most propitious time for us to reveal and reconstruct our inner Sanctuary. On this Tisha B’Av, we will see the rebuilding of the Third Temple that will descend from Heaven. At that time the forces of evil (represented by the word “mountain”) will be completely conquered. And instead of the forces of evil posing insurmountable obstacles to our Jewishness, we will all climb the “mountain”—we will witness the revelation of the Third Beis HaMikdash that will descend from Heaven.

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