Rabbi Label Lam
We sing on Friday evening the following poetic words, "Lovers of Hashem,
those who long for the building of The Temple, delight and rejoice on the
Holy Shabbos, like one who has received an endless inheritance..."
What does longing for the rebuilding of The Temple to do with the depth of
pleasure we experience on Shabbos? The story is told about a sole survivor
of a shipwreck who washed up on a dessert island. After having taken care
of his most basic needs of food, clothing and shelter he began to forage
soon after to satisfy the next level of lacking, the need for human
Looking down from a mountain view he espied what seemed to be signs of
civilization. His hopes were confirmed when he stumbled upon a fully
developed housing and commercial district. People, however were not to be
found as he wandered from store, to store, to home calling out
unsuccessfully for a human response.
After six full days, in a moment of lapse, he suddenly felt a hand on his
shoulder and noticed the streets bustling with people. The stranger invited
him to come to his house for Shabbos. Nobody dare pause to answer his
inquiries about where they had been because they all claimed to be too busy
"getting ready for Shabbos." On Shabbos they would not speak about weekday
He decided to wait till after Shabbos and meanwhile enjoy the high-spirited
prayer services, divine cuisine, deeply resonant words of Torah, and
angelic singing that accompanied the Shabbos there. After Shabbos, with
just the light of the flickering havdallah (traditional observance marking
the end of Shabbos) candle flashing in the eyes of all, the final blessing
was recited and the candle neatly plunged into the awaiting dish of wine.
Immediately the man began to ask but found to his surprise that he was
The next week after six days the same scene transpired. Nobody uttered a
word about the weekday activity and where all had been. Shabbos, another
delicious Shabbos passed and after havdallah he was plunged into darkness
and isolation again. Enlightened by two previous experiences he waited
till next week and at the moment when the great dancing light of havdallah
was about to be extinguished he quickly grabbed the Rabbi's hand and
refused to yield until his curiosity was satisfied. Where does everyone
go? Seeing that he meant business the Rabbi explained, "This town has been
here for hundreds of years as a port city even during the times of the
Temple. Our greatest joy was the three times of the year when special
emissaries were chosen and launched with great ceremony and laden with
gifts to represent the community in Jerusalem at The Holy Temple. Upon
their return we would live from holiday to holiday on the inspiring stories
of open miracles and the tangible holiness present at those splendid events.
"One time we were awaiting the arrival of our messengers after the
holiday. We all stood at the beach at the appointed time. The whole day
went by and at the very end when the sun was setting the band started to
play as our ship appeared on the horizon. As it moored closer we began to
sense something was amiss. The lone figure on the boat sat with his head
bowed in silence.
"We gathered around him riddling him with questions till we grew silent and
he spoke unspeakable words. He whispered in barely audible tones this
impossible uttering, 'The Temple was destroyed!' We were all so shocked
and hurt by the awful news that our hearts burst with grief and we died a
simultaneous death because of our loss. In the heaven there was a great
stir because we had all arrived before our time and yet we had left the
world. A compromise was offered that since we died because of our love for
The Temple we were sent back to live out our appointed days on earth, only
on Shabbos." That is how the legend goes!
We once went to visit a blind woman in Jerusalem who was able to tell us
volumes of accurate incites about our children just from feeling their
faces. We were amazed. When we left one of our little boys said, 'That
lady can't see with her eyes but she can see with her heart.'"
When a person loses their ability to see, we find often, that other senses
are more heightened and that sensitivity, although not a complete
compensation, allows the person to function till the power of sight is
restored. Similarly, without The Temple, The Almighty's Place, where His
presence could be visibly perceived, we are like blind in the
world. However, if one loves profoundly and wants truly to behold The
Almighty's presence, then Shabbos, His time, takes on a richer flavor of
joy, and in the meantime that is our consolation.
Text Copyright © 2000 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.