Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mourning for the Bais Hamikdosh-Part 1

I was wondering about this last night. I'm sure this question has been asked before and I'm not the first one to come up with it...but I was thinking about the way we mourn for the bais hamikdosh and I had this question.

Why is it that we mourn for the bais hamikdosh in the opposite way that we mourn the death of a human being? When someone dies, we go from stronger to lighter forms of mourning. It starts with shiva, seven days of sitting on the low chairs, not leaving the house, not wearing leather shoes, people coming to comfort those who lost their loved one...and continues to the shloshim where the halachos are not as severe. There is still no music allowed...there are still some restrictions. And this continues on for a full year for someone who lost a parent.

On the other hand, when we mourn the bais hamikdosh, we go from light, the three weeks, where we do not listen to music, wear new clothing, to the nine days, where we are restricted with the way we bathe and shower, to tisha b'av itself-the day which we observe the most intense form of mourning.

Why is it like this?

Why, when it comes to mourning the death of a human being do we go from more intense to less and when we mourn the destruction of the bais hamikdosh do we start with a lesser form of mourning and slowly increase the level of sadness?

So...there's the guy's answer, which is the short and to-the-point answer, and the girl's answer, which as you can guess is more emotional. :-) (My husband's answer, and my own. One day I'll write down all my chiddushei torah. lol)

The real answer, one that is much more logical, is that this is the order that things happened when the bais hamikdosh was destroyed. It wasn't burned down from one day to the next. The city of Yerushalayaim was surrounded by Nevuchadnetzzar and his army. There was a siege. It took time until the events of tisha b'av occurred, until the bais hamikdosh was actually destroyed and burned down to the ground.

When we mourn these events, we go in order of the way they happened. Things went from less intense to more. We start off at the beginning of the three weeks with a lesser degree of mourning simply because things started off at a lower degree of devastation during the time leading up to the destruction of the bais hamikdosh. With time, it got worse and worse and so our level of mourning gets stronger as we get closer to tisha b'av. And tisha b'av is the climax. It's the most intense day of sadness, as we ache for the day when we will have the bais hamikdosh back.

The answer I came up with is much longer, too long to fit here so I'm going to save it for another blog post.

In the meantime, if anyone can come up with another answer to this question, it would be nice to hear it. You can post a comment or send me an email.

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