Wednesday, July 10, 2013

That Is NOT A Jew Engaged in Construction

It's a Waqf employee on the Temple Mount this morning:

When he noticed he was being photographed, EK relates, he declared with a smile "these are the floor stones of the Temple".

Which reminds us of the story from Eicha Raba I:16 (and also Yerushalmi, Berachot 2:5) of a Jewish farmer plowing his field with a cow. The cow lowed and an Arab passer-by told the farmer to unharness the cow and disengage the plough because the cow just "declared" that the Temple was destroyed (by the Romans), so a Jew's economic life was thus made worthless. A moment later the cow bellowed again. The Arab then cried out, "Jew, go back to work. Your cow just declared that your savior was born."  And his name is Menachem ben Hizkiyahu from the royal city Bethlehem in Judea.
And one more:

On another occasion, they were going to Jerusalem, and when they reached Mount Scopus, they rent their garments (in mourning).  When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox run out from the Holy of Holies, and they all began to weep except R. Akiba, who laughed.  They said to him: Akiba!  You always surprise us.  We weep, and you laugh.  He said to them: Why do you weep?  Should we not weep, they replied, when from the place of which is written: And the stranger that comes nigh shall be put to death (Num. 1:5) a fox runs out, fulfilling the verse: For the mountain of Zion is desolate, the foxes will walk upon it.  He replied: That is exactly why I laugh.  The verse says: And I will take unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the Priest and Zechariah (Isa. 8:2). 

What is Uriah doing next to Zechariah.  Uriah lived in the days of the First Temple, Zechariah in the days of the Second?  Consider what Uriah said: Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps (Jer. 26:18). And what Zechariah said: Thus says the Lord of Hosts: There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age (Zech: 8:4) and he continues: And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing (8:5).  God says: Behold, I have  two witnesses: if the words of Uriah are nullified, so will the words of Zechariah.  And now, said Akiba, I rejoice that the words of Uriah have been fulfilled, for now the words of Zachariah will ultimately be fulfilled too.

Hearing these words they said to him: Akiba!  You have comforted us.  May you be comforted by the steps of him that brings good times.  (Eicha Rabbah 5:18, in The Walls of Jerusalem, Raphael, p. 202-203)


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