Inspired Tel Aviv (ITV), Shalom LaAm Center, 54 Bar Kochva, Tel Aviv

August 20, 2017

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Napoleon and the Temple

The story is told of how Napoleon came upon a darkened synagogue while conquering Russia, and saw the Jews sitting inside on the ground and crying. On being told that they were crying for the Temple destroyed two millennia before, he is said to have exclaimed: 'A people who can still cry over their Temple after 2000 years will live to see it rebuilt.'


Whether this encounter happened or not, it contains an important truth. Britons no longer weep over the Norman Conquest of 1066; there's no Italian day of mourning for the sack of Rome. We only cry for a loss we still feel. And yet go into synagogues the world over on Tisha B'Av and you'll hear a hushed reading of Eichah, the lamentations for the destruction of Jerusalem. Because after 2000 years the Beit Hamikdash is still relevant; it's the missing focal point of Jewish life.


If Napoleon were to revisit us on the Ninth of Av 2017, seeing us connecting back 2000 years, he would be more convinced than ever that the Temple is just around the corner.  



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