Masei 2005

We are now in the midst of the three weeks, the tragic period of time in which we mourn the destruction of our Temple. This period culminates on Tisha B’av, the day on which the Temple was actually destroyed, and on which we fast to commemorate this.

During these three weeks, we try to reflect on the causes that led to the destruction of the Temple, and how to correct them.

A storeowner from a small village once came to his distributor to place an order. After ordering all the items, he was given a bill for the goods he wanted. He looked at the distributor, and explained that although he had no money on him he would send it as soon as he returned to his village.

The distributor refused. “I checked my records, and see that many times you took merchandise on credit, promising to pay for it, and never did so. I can no longer give you credit.”

The storekeeper began begging and pleading, describing the terrible pain and anguish that awaited his family if he didn’t obtain these goods to sell. The picture of a family sitting without bread to put on the table was enough to move the distributor. He gave in to the storeowner’s request.

Just then, the workers in the distributors business, who heard what was going on, approached their boss. “How could you even consider giving this person credit? How many times has he promised to pay you and not kept his word? Throw him out!”

A tremendous commotion ensued. Amidst all the tumult and arguments, a bystander who happened to be there approached the storeowner. “I have an idea for you. Instead of stocking up on all your goods for the next few months, why don’t you just by a small amount of merchandise, enough for just few weeks. It’s a much smaller request from the distributor, and more likely to be agreed to. If after a few weeks you pay for that, then you can ask for more credit. In this way, you will build up your credit until you can again buy on credit like anyone else.” Everyone listened to the wise mans advise, and the store owner was able to rebuild his business.

In the same way, the Chofetz Chaim explained, we ask Hashem to have mercy on us to redeem us all the time. Hashem certainly wants to.

The problem is that our constant promises to improve aren’t kept. The only way for us to really change is to follow the example of the storeowner. We must begin with “small” things, and the build up to all the commandments.

The Chofetz Chaim concludes that the commandments we should begin with are the frequent manners of speech that are prohibited; Loshon Hora (Gossip), and embarrassing others, Onoas Devarim (Hurtful words). Sheker (lying), words of anger, arguments…if we start working on these “small” sins, this will be our first step to rebuilding the Temple.

May this be soon in our times!!