Seeing HASHEM with Our Hearts
By 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 loving HASHEM and longing for the rebuilding of The Temple have
to do with the depth of delight we have on the Holy 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 interaction. 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 matters.
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 alone again. 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 laden with a multitude of 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’s the legend! What does it mean?
The Bais HaMikdash rested in a place where we went three times yearly to be
seen by and see HASHEM. The “eyes of the congregation” the Sanhedrin sat in
that place. It was a place where HASHEM impressed human eyes with the
certainty of His presence. Shabbos appeals to other senses and takes
precedence in many ways over the Holy Temple. Therefore we cease building
the Tabernacle to observe Shabbos and we eat and rejoice when the 9th of Av
falls on Shabbos! Shabbos offers the experience of the Bais HaMikdash in time.
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 the room”.
We were amazed. When we left one of our little boys said, 'That lady can't
see with her eyes but she sure can see with her heart."
When a person loses their ability to see, we often find that other senses
become more heightened. That extra sensitivity, although not a complete
compensation, allows the person to apprehend reality. Similarly, without The
Temple, “The Almighty's Place”, where His presence could be visibly
perceived, we are stricken blind. However, if one loves to that degree and
truly longs to behold HASHEM’s presence, then Shabbos Kodesh-“HASHEM’s Time”
takes on a richer flavor of joy, consoling us each week with the awesome
gift of seeing HASHEM with our hearts.
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.