The Rule of Holiness
We live in a world where many times we are forced to witness the desecration of
the things which are most holy to us. Why do these things happen?
The answer is that when we don’t treat holy things with the
proper respect, they become vulnerable to desecration at the hands of the goyim.
The Yerushalmi asks, “Why are the synagogues turned into houses of idolatry?”
Why do we see it in our own time? Go to the Lower East Side of New York, and
you’ll see places that were once shuls and yeshivos that are now churches. Why
has that happened? The Yerushalmi says it is because people speak idle talk in
shul. When we desecrate the kedushah of a shul that way, then the goyim
have the power to desecrate it physically.
Then we become sensitive. When we see a shul turned into a
church, then it hurts. Then we realize, then we remember there’s kedushah.
Maybe the next time we go into a shul, we won’t speak devarim betailim.
The Nebuchadnezzars, the Tituses, the Hitlers of the world,
hate kedushah. They can’t stand the sight of it, and they lash out at it with
demonic fury. In the pogroms of Tach v’Tat, they unrolled sifrei Torah
out in the meadows, and slaughtered thousands of Jews on them. The Nazis made
lampshades of sifrei Torah. Shuls and batei midrashos were turned into
stables. And so it has been throughout history. In our own times, too. During
the twenty years that the Jordanians had control of Har HaZaisim, they
desecrated the cemeteries, using the tombstones as toilets.
The story is told that when Sulamein became ruler over Eretz
Yisrael, one day he noticed a woman pouring her garbage on his palace grounds,
which included the Makom HaMikdash. He had her arrested and brought
before him, and he asked her, “What’s the meaning of this? You have no better
place to throw your garbage than on my palace grounds?” She said that the
priests in the city where she lives told her that if she takes her garbage to a
certain place in Jerusalem, where the temple of the Jews used to be, she’ll get
Sulamein was intrigued. So he went and buried coins in the
area and had it proclaimed that there was treasure there, and anyone could keep
whatever they would find. Thousands of the poor came, thinking that they would
find treasure, and that kept them busy. Free labor, thousands of people
digging-until they uncovered the Kosel HaMa’aravi! It had been buried by the
garbage dumped there for so many years.
The greatest kedushah that Klal Yisrael has is our
children. The Gemora in Gitin tells of a group of Jewish boys and girls that
were being taken in ships back to Rome. They realized that they were being taken
for purposes of immorality, and so the girls decided that it is better to die
for Kiddush HaShem than to be given over to the hands of the Romans for
immoral purposes. So they jumped into the sea and drowned themselves. When the
boys saw that, they said: “If they committed suicide in order to avoid an
immorality which is normal, all the more so, we, who have been taken for
perverse immorality, should drown ourselves.” And so they did.
Nor is this an isolated incident. It happened throughout our
history. The goyim vented their bestial anger on innocent Jewish children.
How many little children have been killed in the last few
years. The children are the ikkar (main) kedushah. If we want to
preserve our children, then we have to treat them properly.
It used to be that parents were concerned with the olam
haba of their children, and children were concerned with the olam hazeh
of their parents. The children were concerned that their parents should be
taken care of physically, and parents were concerned that their children should
have the kind of Torah education that would guarantee them yiras shamayim
and a portion in olam haba. Today the parents are concerned with the
olam hazeh of their children-that he should have a parnasah, a good
life in this world, at the expense of olam haba. And children are
concerned that their parents are buried properly, they say kaddish for them.
They’re not so concerned about them when they’re alive, but very much concerned
about them when they’re gone.
If we don’t teach our children properly, and aren’t concerned
about the main thing, which is their spiritual welfare, then their physical
welfare is endangered. If we desecrate their kedushah by our neglect,
they will be desecrated in a more physical, more tragic way.
For that is the way it is with all things holy. If we don’t
treat them properly, they will be taken away from us and treated improperly.