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Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
Yerushalayim Today, A City Under Siege?
Two thousand four hundred and thirty four years ago this time, Yerushalayim came under siege from Nevuchadnetzar's army.  Today once again we the citizens of Yerushalayim feel like we are under siege.  Chilul Shabbos, immodesty, and host of other issues are the enemy which we fear will ultimately bring down our glorious Ir HaKodesh both physically and spiritually.  The non-religious and other outside forces are wreaking havoc on the Holy spirit of the city, or are they?

The gemara Yuma 9b says that the first Bais HaMikdash was destroyed because we committed the three aveiros chamuros, the three cardinal sin.  But why asks the gemara was the second Bais HaMikdash destroyed if we were learning Torah, doing Mitzvos, and being Oseik in Chesed?

This begs the historical question.  At the time of the Churban, the Peirushim as defined by Yosefun in his historical notes of the time, were but a small minority o the overall population.  There were the Tziddukim and many who simply fell under the spell of the Roman culture not to mention the lingering lure of Hellenism.  How can the gemara wonder why the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed and claim that we were all tzaddikim at least in the fundamental areas?

(If these facts are indeed correct) the answer may lie in something I heard years ago from a great Rosh Yeshiva.  He said that the tzorus we face today are not the bitter fruit of the aveiros of the non-religious.  It is purely a result of our own less than stellar adherence to the Torah.  They are who they are, but Hashem is counting on us.  How foolish to point fingers at people lost decades ago and are all Tinokos SheNishbiu.  We are the guilty ones and apparently we lack in all these areas or else we would not suffer.

Rav Yisroel Salanter stated it eloquently when he said when a Yid puts on Tefilin in Russia it has an impact on a non-religious Jew walking the streets of Paris.  It is said that Rav Shach once took a walk with some talmidim to the border of Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan on Shabbos.  He asked his talmidim why on one street there were cars driving but on the neighboring street which was Bnei Brak there were no cars?  "Because this is Bnei Brak and that is Ramat Gan", answered one talmid.  "Wrong" said Rav Shach.  "Because the Hashpa'a of your Torah only reaches until here.  Learn a little more and learn a little harder and there will be no cars on this street as well!"

The frum world is a microcosm of the Jewish world.  Yom Kippur, says Rav Shimshon Pincus, is a day kept by even Jews far removed because we still feel the Kedushas Hayom and therefore our Hashpa'a reaches the heart of our brother's far removed.

Rav Shimshon once said that it is still possible to find a bochur who knows how to daven Shmoneh Esrei the right way, but it is almost impossible to find someone who knows the meaning of Kedusha Shabbos and spends it the right way.  What about our own modesty?  Is it still up to the standards of the past that we expect our streets to continue to be clean.  What about all the horrible things happening in our society to children and adults alike, that are swept under the rug?  Why are we so sure that this is not the cause of the scenes imposed on us in the street?  Why do we expect the non-religious in the streets to reflect our purest ideals when our own homes and schools do not?

I remember as a young child on the city bus on my way home from Cheider one day.  There was a Vietnam Vet wearing army fatigues reading a not clean magazine.  Many of the kids crowded on the standing room only bus were stealing quick glimpses over his shoulder.  Finally frustrated and angry the man stood up holding the magazine waving the Magazine over his head screaming, "You want to see it, here you go.  Just don't peek and make believe you are nice little boys.  Take a good look in front of all your friends!"

The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says, "Kol HaMichallel Shem Shamayim B'Seser Nifra'im Mimenu B'Galuy", whoever disgraces Shem Shamayim in private will get their payback on a public stage.  Maybe it is time to stop pointing fingers and instead take a long look at the public drama, and say, "Oh my goodness is this what we have become?"  What has become of our Shabbos?  What has become of our Kedusha?  What has become with all the things we accuse our brother's of who have long ago stopped believing and have no reason to play by our rules, when they perceive a lack of sincerity on our part.

The gemara says that on a Taanis, part of the day is to be spent doing public soul searching.  We need to sit around and discuss where we have gone wrong as a society.  Only then will Hashem turn our tears and mourning into a day of joy.   Only then will the siege of Yerushalayim will be lifted, and we will see the light of the Shechina, a reflection of our newly clean inner selves.
RELATED ARTICLES:churban  observation  Shabbos  ta'anis  Yerushalayim

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