Even Napoleon Could See The Temple Would Be Rebuilt

"A temple was destroyed in our grand French Republic? Why wasn't I told?"

Every summer, on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, Jews fast for 25 hours to mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

We also recall a string of catastrophes that befell our people in other years on this date (learn more).

Legend has it that the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once walked past a synagogue, heard crying within, and turned to his aide.

“Why are those Jews crying?”

“They’re mourning the destruction of their Temple.”

“A temple was destroyed in our grand French Republic? Why wasn’t I told?”

“Your Imperial Majesty, the Temple was destroyed almost 2,000 years ago.”

“And they’re still crying about it 2,000 years later?! A nation that mourns like that will surely return to its land and see their Temple rebuilt.”

We have indeed returned to our land, but our Temple has not been rebuilt. Perhaps because we still don’t act as a unified people.

Our Sages taught that the Temple was destroyed because of “baseless hatred” among Jews. (Yoma 9b, B. Talmud)

What is baseless hatred? Any hatred of our brothers and sisters! We don’t need to agree with each other, but we must not hate.

The great Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel said, “If we were destroyed and the world with us due to baseless hatred, then we shall rebuild ourselves and the world with us with baseless love.” (Orot HaKodesh vol. III, p. 324)

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Image: Western Wall, early 20th century

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