Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman
Our sages tell us that any generation where the Temple was not rebuilt in their time, it is as if it was destroyed in their time. The simple understanding of this statement is that if we haven’t experienced the ultimate redemption yet, it is because the baseless hatred that existed then (which the Talmud tells us led to the destruction of the second Bais Hamikdosh), still exists now.
This statement is hard to comprehend. There were so many generations before us that contained very worthy and righteous people. If the Temple wasn’t rebuilt in their generation, what chance do we have? The Chofetz Chaim Z”L (Rabbi Israel Mayer Kagan, leader of the Jewish people pre-World War II) who was responsible for a major initiative in learning the laws of loshon hora (evil speech ) and was known for his meticulous attention to loving his fellow Jew is a perfect example of such a person, and if he wasn’t successful in experiencing the ultimate redemption, what can we do?
The Sfas Emes (19th century Chasidic Rabbi) explains the statement of our sages in the following manner. Our charge is to be builders. G-d demands of us effort, not perfection and completion. The sages are telling us if the Temple wasn’t built in “your” time that means there was no effort made to be a more sensitive people to eradicate the baseless hatred, and, therefore, we are no different than those living at the time the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed. However, if we are putting forth effort to love our fellow Jew, then we are a generation that can be worthy of that redemption.
I once read the following in one of Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon’s, (the Mashgiach of Lakewood Yeshiva), seferim. It seems in tragic times, we rally and come together. Why do we have to wait for that to happen? It is time to start coming together, whether it be for a simcha, such as a shalom zachor, or simply calling someone you know to show that you care. Be a part of the community. Let us not wait for the tragedies; let us be pro-active in creating an atmosphere of unity among all Jews. May we merit to be a generation of builders to see the future redemption in our times.