Kabbalah/Chassidut

Bleeding Curtain Miracle

Parts I-II

Part III. First Temple

 

Babylonian Avengers

During the First Temple Era, the majority of Jews were guilty of idolatry, adultery, murder or other major crimes. G-d punished them by allowing the Babylonians to conquer Israel. The Temple was razed, Israel's inhabitants were killed and their remnant was taken into captivity. Seventy years later G-d relented. The Second Temple was erected and the exiled returned to Israel. Four hundred and twenty years later, it, too, was destroyed.

A distressing question arises. It's known that Second Temple Jews lived more or less exemplary lives. They didn't practice idol worship or other severe sins. Yet, the Temple still hasn't been rebuilt. How is it that the First Temple, destroyed on account of vile sins, lay in ruins for a scant seventy years, yet the Second Temple, whose Jews were virtuous, hasn't been reconstructed for two thousand years?!

 

Scholarly Sinners

First Temple Jews may have been sinners, but they studied Torah. In that merit, G-d overlooked their nasty deeds and had the Temple rebuilt. On the other hand, Second Temple Jews were scrupulous in observing G-d's commandments, with two exceptions: gratuitous hatred and neglect of Torah study. And as mentioned earlier, "G-d forgives cardinal sins, but not neglect of Torah." Jeremiah prophesied both Temples' destruction, and regarding the later Roman Exile he asked, "Why does the land perish? And G-d says, 'Because they have forsaken my Torah.'"

This is difficult to grasp. Recall that the cause of the Temple's downfall was the desolation of Emanation's vessels, brought about by transgression. As the Jews of the First Temple were idolatrous, murderous, and licentious, surely their crimes caused far greater spiritual calamity than the neglect of Torah by the Jews of the Second Temple. Not opening a text can't be compared to cardinal sins; study is a positive commandment, whose lack of performance is a mere non-accomplishment. It would appear that First Temple Jews harmed Emanation more than did Second Temple ones.


Restorative Light

First Temple Jews studied the Torah, and Torah possesses remarkable life-resurrecting powers. King Solomon informs that, "Torah is Light." (Proverbs 6:23) Analogized to a bleeding limb, Emanation's ruptured vessels had lost Light and life-force. Torah's Light, though, shone down into the injured vessel and Emanation's lost Light was replenished.

An example from medicine elucidates this concept. A person is stricken with an injured outer limb. His internal organs, though, are healthy, By taking medication, his inner powers return the outer limb to its former strength and restore the blood to its proper composition. Now that his blood is in order, new abundant life-force and light shines out of his soul into his blood. Automatically, his earlier deficiency is corrected.

Solomon reveals Torah's healing power, "It will be a cure for your navel and marrow for bones." (Proverbs 3:8) Torah study also cures the physical world, in dire need of a remedy. The verse tells us that Elijah "healed G-d's destroyed altar." (Kings I 18:30)

In like manner, Torah study cures the supernal vessels of Emanation. Torah study invokes G-d to emanate abundant, fresh Light into Emanation's stricken vessels and restore the vessels' Light to its former robust state. And since it is healing Light, the damaged vessels are repaired.


IV. Second Temple


Millennium Malady

This accounts for the prompt reconstruction of the First Temple. But what happened during Second Temple Times? Although its Jews weren't guilty of cardinal sins, nevertheless, they did commit lesser infractions, which poked smaller holes into Emanation's vessels. The problem was Jews didn't learn Torah. Consequently, Torah's healing Light failed to descend into Emanation. Bereft of replenished rejuvenating Light, the vessels couldn't heal.


Conclusion

This then explains the Sages' astonishing assertion, "G-d pardons idol worship, incest and murder but not neglect of Torah." This also explains why G-d chose the miraculous emission of blood from Titus's curtain slash to drive home this point. The absence of Torah's Light causes Emanation's Inner Light to spill into evil realms. Conversely, had Torah's Light shined in Emanation, then blood wouldn't have spurted from the Temple's curtain, as Torah's healing Light would have cured the vessels. Only Torah has this power, as the verse says, "G-d shines His Face on you." G-d's Inwardness is in the Torah and shines exclusively "on you" - those who study Torah.

 

[Rabbi David Rothschild, a resident of Safed, is the founder and editor of Nefesh Magazine.]

 


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