Two Thousand Years of Failure

In our quest to be Tzaddikim we forgot about being a Mentch.

2000 years ago, we caused, with our own actions, the destruction of Beit HaMikdash. For the next 2000 years we cried, we fasted, we wore black hats and jackets, we learned many pages of Gmara by heart, and we prayed for the reconstruction of Beit HaMikdash - to no avail. Beit HaMikdash is not yet rebuilt and we seem to get deeper and deeper into the hole. We made an experiment, a 2000-years long experiment, and we failed.

God could not care less what color hat we wear. God could not care less if we wear a shirt, a jacket, or a kappotta. God could not care less how many pages of Gmara we know by heart or how many days in a year we fast. There is only one thing that God cares about – what we do for each other. The time we spend helping someone in need, is infinitely more important than the time we spend with our noses pointed to the books we learn. Yes, we do have to learn Torah. It is very important to learn Torah. But, when nobody visits a lonely person in the hospital; when nobody helps an older person carry heavy shopping bags; when nobody helps an overwhelmed family care for a sick child; when we hurt another Jew who is not as "holy" as we are; when a person can say “Let somebody else provide the help, I am too busy learning Torah”; all the pages of the Torah books we learn, cannot make up for it.

The prophet Yeshayahu, during the days of the first Beit HaMikdash, already warned against false Frumkeit. In Ch.1 and in Ch.58 Yeshayahu tells us that God does not care about our sacrifices; does not care about our prayers; despises our holiday observances; and does not want our fasts. The only thing God wants from us is justice and acts of helping those in need. We did not listen, and Beit HaMikdash was destroyed, twice.

It is time for us to wake up from our illusions and false Frumkeit. It is time for us to understand that we have failed and that we need to change our priorities. It is time for us to start helping each other with our actions, not with our lips. If we ever want Beit HaMikdash to be rebuilt, we better drop our books and roll up our sleeves to help each other in times of need. As it says in Tana Dvei Eliahu (24.1): “Those who went out of Mitzraim had one Mitzvah that was liked by God more than 100 other Mitzvot ... they were all united, with a covenant to do Chessed with each other.” All united – not segregated into private cliques and groups which act like private insurance clubs.

A man who had trouble in his marriage, complained to his Rabbi: "It says that folding the Tallit immediately after Havdalah is a Sgulah for Shlom Bayit. I always do it, yet, it does not help." The Rabbi answered: " I have a better Sgulah for you. After Havdalah, roll up your sleeves and go wash the dishes."

Let's not try to be a Tzaddik. First, let's try to be a Mentch.


  1. Yasher Koach. As the Kotzker said: ואנשי קודש תהיו לי, קודם א מענטש און נאך דעם הייליג.

    (Translation: The pasuk says "And you shall be holy men for Me." First be men then be holy.


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