Thursday, July 22, 2010


Are We Still in Exile?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

    The statistics are amazing; almost the majority of the world’s Jews live in Israel. Israel has again become the world’s center of Torah learning. More Jews are learning Torah than ever before. Israel has a strong army. The economy here is firm, and growing. On and on, we see wonderful signs that cause some of us think, Maybe we should stop mourning on the 9th of Av. Maybe we should actually go up and take over the Temple Mount. We see that the signs of the Redemption are all around us.”

    Some well-known rabbis do go up onto the Temple Mount, and they are encouraging others to follow them. What should you and I do?

    There are even some “Chassidim” who claim that their rebbe was the Messiah, and they not only do not fast on the 10th of Teves, (a fast day) but they openly celebrate a huge feast, and publicly make “Kiddush” (sanctification of the day) on a cup of wine!

    Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? So why don’t we do it?

    In the Passover Hagadah (order of the night), we fervently conclude saying, “Next year in Jerusalem!” But we are in Jerusalem now, aren’t we? At least half a million of us live in this Holy City, and thousands more come for Passover, yet, we also say, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Why?

    We say it because we are not merely referring to the physical Jerusalem. Even more importantly, we are referring to the spiritual Jerusalem. Of course, the physical is essential. Without the physical there would be no spiritual here. But still, it is not merely the wonderful physical Jerusalem that we seek.

    Yes, today there are a few well-meaning rabbis who do claim that we should go up onto the Temple Mount, and they openly publicize their rather frequent trips there. But, why is it that almost every single “Orthodox” leader, from all streams of “Orthodox” Judaism, says, “Do not go up there”?

     A number of years ago, a very well known Chabad rabbi who is renowned for his knowledge of Kabbalah, went up onto the Temple Mount. He began regular visits to the Mount, in order to say a mystical order of prayers that would certainly bring the final Redemption. Reb Moshe Weber, obm (who started the tefillin stand at the Kotel right after the Six Day War and maintained it until his passing a few years ago), wrote to the Lubavitcher Rebbe asking if that rabbi was correct. The Rebbe answered, “Under no circumstances should any Jew go up onto the Temple Mount now. It is a serious error to go there.”[i]

    Now, who am I to believe? The few rabbis who say, “We have to retake the Mount. We must show our presences there”? Or, should I listen to the Rebbe, and virtually every other leader, who say “Do not go up”?

    These physical signs of Redemption are wonderful. May they multiply over and over again every single day. We should be encouraged by them, and we should increase our joyful service of Hashem, thanking Him for what He is doing. Seeing the good that He is doing should encourage us to work even harder. We should not let up, but instead we should hurry to gather in all Jews and righteous gentiles to the knowledge of the One G-d. Now is the time that we have free will, and now is the time that we can increase our spiritual portion.

    But we should not say that this is IT, until the actual Revelation of G-d’s Presence fills the entire world. Then, the earthly deeds that we were merited to accomplish will bring down the Heavenly Temple onto its proper place, to the Temple Mount…. The righteous will come back to life, and the entire world will know peace. Stay tuned. You can almost taste it in the air.   

[i] R’ Ido Weber is in possession of this letter.


  1. I certainly do not fast anymore on the 9th of Av (the Tanach is quite clear on when and when not to fast). And further more, I came back home to Jerusalem this past 9th of Av. What are you doing to create the geulah? If we want it, let's start living it. We need it more then ever as the behaviour of many is certainly chillul haShem. I knew coming back that the people have gone nuts, I just did not expect it to be so rampant. Not all of course. We have a huge mess to straighten up.

  2. The Gemara in Rosh Hashana makes it clear that Tisha B'Av is to be considered different than the other fast days, because "nishpelu bo tzarot"-- many calamities happened on that day. That is why the Mishnah mentions sending messengers for Tisha B'Av and not the other fast days. As to the other fast days, such as the tenth of Tevet, a very firm case can be made that one need not fast if one doesn't want to, since we're living in a time R' Papa characterizes as "en shmad" (there's no overbearing religious persecution) and "en shalom" (there's no peace-- that is, the full scenario of Geulah). Although later poskim, such as the Tur, basically folllow the Ramban that the choice to fast on these days is determined by the majority of the community (however that is determined, some rishonim say by bet din), the Geonic responsa and the Rambam clearly establish it as an individual choice. That is not so say that I advocate not fasting on these days, but someone who does not is on solid ground (this does not include Tisha B'Av).

    I do not say "next year in Jerusalem" at the seder. Neither do I say "the city that is desolate and empty of her inhabitants" on Tisha B'Av. Common conception to the contrary, the authors of various nuschaot and liturgical additions meant their words to fit the reality. They did not understand their words as spiritual constructs which can be fossilized or frozen in place. This idea is really a rationalization to explain the disconnect between the words and the reality. And its been repeated and drummed into our minds to such a degree that we accept it unthinkingly as the normative Jewish approach. In truth it is a very recent development, and the hachamin, gaonim, and rishonim never understood nusach in this way.

    To me when the words we say are out of synch with the reality, not only are we flirting with tefilot shav (improper and meaningless petitions to Hashem), but its like a short-circuit. And when there's a short-circuit the lights don't work.

  3. The issue with temple mount is really confusing, it seems crystal clear that if go up properly (mikvah, no leather, etc...) and walk around the extreme edge of the area, nothing sacred is being violated. Saying stuff like 'most rabbis say' is a double edged sword and can be used for many things like 'not to leave Israel even if it is to go to kivrei tzaddikim like Oman and NYC'.

    May we get to the full redemption soon. Shabbat shalom, Josh.


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