“Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign YHVH says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name.” –Ezek. 36
The destruction of the first temple and the exile to Babylon was not a reward to our faithfulness as Jews, but quite the contrary. For years Jeremiah had warned us to return to the purity of our monotheism, but we did not heed, and so the destroying armies were allowed to devastate Jerusalem and the temple of YHVH. The long exile in Babylon brought our fathers to absorb many of the ways of the pagan nations, and to even introduce the names of their gods into our calendar and names of the “Jewish” months, including Tammuz, even though the Torah explicitly admonished us to ‘not take up the names of foreign gods upon your lips’ (Exodus 23:13). Though this was condemned by the prophets Daniel, Ezekiel and Zechariah, Judaism further corrupted itself- to this very day. Thus our grave concern for the number of threads in our tsitsit, or the search for the perfect Etrog or the perfect mathematical and scientific equation as a pathetic response to hester panim – the hiding of the face of YHVH from us. It was not until the coming of the Mashiach at the precise time prescribed by Daniel, that the opportunity for that dark cloud of sin to be lifted arrived, and His face again revealed. But for most that opportunity was sadly missed due to sinat hinam (‘hatred without a cause’) of the one sent to us, and another destruction of the temple and Jerusalem and a 2000-year exile was decreed upon us- until the terrible prophesied Holocaust of the 20th century AD (where part of my own family perished in Hungary), leading to the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland in the ancient Land of Israel.
It is written in the Talmud, regarding the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE: ‘On one occasion when [Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai and his disciple Rabbi Yehoshua] were leaving Jerusalem, the latter gazed upon the destroyed Temple and cried out, “Woe to us! The place where Israel obtained atonement for sins is in ruins!” Rabbi Yochanan said to him, “My son, be not distressed. We still have an atonement equally efficacious, and that is the practice of benevolence” (Avot d’Rabbi Natan 4).
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai’s opinion was correct but for the sake of all I would wish that his disciple’s wishful thinking was right too. However, since those rabbis’ opinions were presented, our long and sad and painful history of being driven from nation to nation, as foretold in the Torah and Prophets due to our sins against HaShem, should be due cause to seriously re-examine our views. Especially we Jews who have been born at the end of the great Holocaust, and still have living witnesses with numbers tattooed on their arms. Now, back in our Land once again- and the Land of Yeshua the Jew- we have been given that opportunity, that “the first may be last, and the last first.” As Jews we are not to convert to another religion, but to be washed clean that we may serve YHVH in spirit and in truth, as is written in Ezekiel 36: “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” I, in my own long and serious search around the world for Emet-Truth, was granted another chance, would not miss that opportunity for the world.
5 All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. 46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you… Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known. 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!” — because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see…. Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you.”
These things have all come to pass, in detail.
Do we learn from our history? Or do we continue to ignore our Prophets?