Once again the 10th of Teves is upon us and in our cyclical calendar we fast while experiencing the pain and anguish of a lost Temple.
In today’s day and age we have become desensitized to the loss of the Beis Hamikdash. For most, we cannot even minutely imagine a life with the Temple built in its full glory. We can’t picture the hordes of people coming from around the world to bring sacrifices to G-d three times a year.
Nevertheless, the (Gemara Sukka 51b) says, “Anyone who has not seen the Simchas Beis HaShoeva in his days has never seen happiness in his life.” The Gemara then continues to say, “Anyone who did not see the Beis Hamikdash while it was built has never seen an attractive building”.
While learning this Gemara, I was perplexed as to why the Gemara in Sukka juxtaposes these two statements next to each other. Granted the Simchas Beis Hashoeva was a happy occasion…and granted that as an architectural structure the Beis Hamikdash was a masterpiece, but what do they have to do with one another? I would assume that the reason why the event was filled with happiness had nothing to do with the beauty of the building that housed it.
It is written in Pirkei Avos that if “two people sit and proactively learn Torah together then the Shichina dwells among them”. This learning is not restricted to the learning of the texts themself but it is also when the Torah is being practiced. We are taught “Viahavta Lireacha Kamocha” “You shall love you friend like yourself”. Only when we love our friends like ourselves can the Shichina dwell amongst us.
The Gemara (Yoma 9b) says that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam, baseless hatred. The Jewish people are one and we all share a common goal. Every person is worthy of respect regardless of their beliefs or level of observance. There is something to be learned from everyone.
I would like to suggest that the reason why the Beis Hamikdash was so beautiful was because of the Simchas Beis HaShoeva, this is why they are juxtaposed to one another in the Gemara Sukka. When Klal Yisrael was respectful to one another and treated each other with the utmost admiration, (like during the Simchas Beis Hashoeva) then there was no building that was more aesthetically and internally beautiful than the Beis Hamikdash. When they didn’t however, then the Shichina could no longer dwell amongst them.
The only way to fix our problem is to realize that we have a problem. The key to true happiness is in the way that we treat others. The only way for the Beis Hamikdash to exist is if we have “happy” events.