LTTN med xp logo Every One of You Runs to His Own House!

August 31, 2000

© 2000 Light to the Nations, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved
Tonight we begin the first day of the month of Elul. The name of this month is derived from the first letters of each word in the verse, “I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me” (Song of Songs 6:3). For Jews, this entire month is a special time of introspection, devotion and repentance, of intense spiritual longing and rededication to our Divine purpose, in preparation for the coming awesome High Holy Days.
 
How amazing, and how apropos, that it was on this very day designated for spiritual growth ­ Elul 1 ­ that the prophet Haggai admonished his people for their apathy concerning the rebuilding of the Holy Temple!
 
“In the second year of king Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the L-rd came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbavel the son of Shaltiel, governor of Yehudah, and to Yehoshua the son of Yehozadaq, the high priest, saying”…
 
These words of rebuke were uttered by the prophet today, Elul 1:
 
“Thus speaks the L-rd of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the L-rd’s house should be built…Is it time for you, yourselves, to dwell in your well-timbered houses, while this house lies waste?”
 
“The time is not come.” Has anything really changed in our attitudes since then? For now, in our own day, this house lies waste, and the Moslem Wakf continues to waste it again and again before our eyes, carrying out its parts and pieces and burying them in garbage dumps; yet there are many who dwell in well-timbered houses, seemingly oblivious to both the destruction and what it means for the Jewish people and the honor of G-d. Jerusalem, with the Temple Mount at its heart, lies upon history’s chopping block and is poised to slip into the gaping maw of darkness; many who pay lip service to the slogan “Jerusalem, eternal and undivided capital of Israel” wring their hands…yet at the close of the day, each one returns to his well-timbered house.
 
Suggestions are made: perhaps a small synagogue on the Mount? Do we deserve a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount? Do we dare? The Chief Rabbinate convenes panels; ideas are raised, questioned, rejected or postponed…for “this people say, the time is not come, the time that the L-rd’s house shall be built.”
 
Is it time for you, yourselves, to dwell in your well-timbered houses? 
The architects of Israel’s destruction, Justice Minister Yossi Belin and Acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, rush headlong to formally transfer the Temple Mount to official Palestinian authority, to rid themselves of what they perceive as an utterly useless liability…an unwieldy albatross that reminds them of their Jewishness and their uncomfortable covenant with G-d. Who needs the Temple Mount? According to their priorities, the Jewish people have no future there. Minister Belin is quoted as saying that “the PLO flag flying over the Temple Mount wouldn’t bother me in the least.” Yet the same Yossi Belin once told an interviewer that when his grandchildren will ask him why they should be Jewish, he will not know what to tell them. And Minister Ben-Ami, at a press conference in Paris on Aug. 28th, said “the dispute is only about symbols.”
 
But the Palestinians know that the dispute is about much more than this. It is about uprooting the G-d of Israel and the People of Israel from the Land of Israel. Nothing accomplishes this more efficiently than the denial of Jerusalem’s Jewish history. Small wonder, what with the Temple Mount nothing more than a “symbol” to Justice Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, that Yasir Arafat can have the audacity to state that “there is no basis to Jewish claims on the Temple Mount.” Jerusalem’s mayor Ehud Olmert recently said that “the government of Israel appears to be uniting in favor of the Moslem claim (to Jerusalem). This is a tragedy of historic proportions…the Israeli team negotiating with Arafat is doing his work even better than him.” Ben-Ami and Belin are Arafat’s greatest asset, for they empower him to declare, as he did several days ago in the Morocco conference: “We will never agree to give up on the Temple Mount or Jerusalem.”
 
Meanwhile, feverish efforts are still underway to secure a deal, to be brokered by President Clinton, by September 13, the date the Palestinians threaten to declare an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. These efforts purportedly center around an American proposal to divide the Temple Mount into four different zones and jurisdictions…an idea referred to by an Israeli government official as “creative”…
 
If Israel is looking for creative ways of achieving peace, perhaps she should take her leap of faith, and consider that the time has come to rebuild the Holy Temple. The Divine promise still beckons to us…“The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former…and in this place I will give peace, says the L-rd of Hosts. (2:9)”
 
It was on this day, Elul 1, that Haggai told Israel, and tells us again today:
 
“You looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? says the L-rd of hosts. Because of My house that lies waste, and every one of you runs to his own house.  Therefore the heaven over you is restrained from giving dew, and the earth is restrained from giving its produce.”
 
May this be a month of blessing, rededication…and rebuilding.

Rabbi Chaim Richman

The Temple Institute
PO Box 31876
Jerusalem Israel