Home What's New Rabbi's Article Chodesh Tov!
Written by Rabbi Norbert Weinberg
Napoleon_and_the_Jews
Napoleon and the Jews
Now that Shavuot and the Count of the Omer have passed, we are about to enter into the longest and warmest days of the year. Tammuz, and the succeeding two months, reflects the beautiful and serene days of summer. Families enjoy vacations and children go off to camp.

Yet, a sad note is heralded in our calendar on the seventeenth day of this month. It is the Fast of Shiva Asar B-Tammuz. On this day, the walls surrounding Jerusalem were breached and the fall of this Holy City only became a matter of time. Exactly three weeks later, on the sad day of Tisha B-Av, both Holy Temples were destroyed and many other tragedies befell us.

The story is told that Napoleon once passed a synagogue where he saw the congregants sitting on the ground and offering tearful prayers. “What is the meaning of this?” he asked his attendants.

“The Jews are wailing because Jerusalem and their Holy Temple was destroyed.”

“Why was I not informed of this right away?” demanded the irritated emperor.

“No, your majesty,” they quickly informed him. “This happened many centuries ago.”

Napoleon was deeply impressed. He stood quietly in deep thought and then said, “If a people are so attached to their ancient homeland and Temple, there is no question in my mind that they will return.”

How right he was!

But our sincere mourning and fasting must have a deep purpose. We must always ask ourselves what brought these tragedies about and – more importantly – what can –must- we do to bring about a complete reversal of these unhappy events.

Although we have returned to our ancient homeland, much has to be done to bring peace and security to Israel and to the Jewish people throughout the world. You and I must be major players in this undertaking. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you are an insignificant cog in a huge wheel. Just consider the effect that a plain Noah had upon his generation and the future of mankind.

There are many roads upon which one can embark. Following are but a few.

Think about any relatives or friends with whom you are angry or who may be upset with you. Is it possible that part of the fault – even if a small amount – may be yours? Then consider if you could possibly take even a small step to make amends. Remember, it was because of senseless hatred that the second Holy Temple was destroyed.

Consider your relationship with your shul. Is it only a mild effort, to be shrugged off if it becomes a little difficult? Are you supporting it in a fair manner? Do you do everything in your power to maintain the required minyan even if it means an occasional sacrifice? Remember that our shul is a mini-Holy Temple and how we react to it will have reverberations on the future Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Yes, we are facing a period of mourning. But we certainly can make this period one of rejuvenation and hope for the future. Jerusalem and Israel have come alive again. Song, dancing and joy are to be seen in its street. We are so close. Let us join together to go the rest of the way.

Chodesh Tov!
 
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