Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Avoiding Harsh Decrees

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin, zt”l, explains the cause of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and how to avoid harsh decrees. “The verse tells us not to accept a blemished sacrifice from a non-Jew since 'משכתם בהם מום בם לא ירצו לכם'. This seems to be redundant. Rashi on that verse writes that you will not have atonement through a blemished sacrifice. This is puzzling since the context is that we bring the sacrifice for the non-Jews, not Jews.
“It is possible that this comes to defend the actions of Zechariah ben Avkulas. After Kamtza was humiliated in front of the sages, he ran to the Roman government and claimed that the Jews where rebelling. To test this assertion he suggested that the Roman emperor send a sacrifice to Yerushalayim to see if they would bring it on the altar.
“He brought it and made a blemish on it which is permissible for non-Jews but halachically forbids us offer it. Rabbi Zechariah refused to offer it and also ruled out the execution of Kamtza. This caused the Roman emperor to send troops to put down the supposed rebellion and led to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash.
“Our verse is saying that even without Rabbi Zechariah’s psak the Romans would have found another reason to destroy the Beis Hamikdash. This is the meaning of the verse that we should not offer even those blemishes which are acceptable to them. Why not? Because 'משכתם בהם'. Their destructiveness—which stems from avodah zarah and gilui arayos—is within them. 'מום בם'—‘The Romans are the blemished ones.’ 'לא ירצו לכם'—Even if you bring their sacrifice they will find another pretext. If we fail to do teshuvah, we will be just like the myriad of nations trampled under the mighty foot of Rome.”

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