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Don't cry for me

Thursday, 5 December, 2013 - 8:03 am

After 22 years of not seeing his little brother, his only brother from his mother, Joseph and Benjamin are reunited.  The Torah recounts this beautiful moment as brothers embrace and Joseph "fell on the neck of Benjamin his brother and cried and Benjamin cried on his neck". 

The commentators tell us the meaning behind these tears.  Joseph was crying for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem that was to be built in the portion of Benjamin in the land of Israel. Benjamin cried for the destruction of the Shiloh Tabernacle that was built in Josephs portion in the land of Israel.

Not withstanding that it was quite sensitive for them to cry for the other, why did each of them not cry also for their own loss.  Did they not each have a Temple or Tabernacle of the holiest proportions destroyed in their land portions?

***

If you have ever experienced a loss you know that when others commiserate with you, show sympathy and cry with you, your pain is alleviated.  Usually, crying is good to help alleviate your pain and suffering.  Having others cry with us helps with the pain too.  (In the home of a mourner the traditional prayer is "may Hashem comfort... with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem".  Essentially we are telling the mourner, that their loss is a universal loss for all of the Jewish people just as the loss of Zion and Jerusalem are also a universal loss.)

This is true when we are crying over our own loss that can't be changed or someone else's loss that is not in our power to change.  Hence Joseph and Benjamin cried for each other.

When it comes to our own loss that we can change, when our Temple has been destroyed we are called upon to act!  It's not enough to cry over the loss, we must take action.  And so, Joseph and Benjamin knew that they had a responsibility to work towards rebuilding their respective (albeit metaphoric) Temples.  

***

The lesson for us in 2013 - we can't sit and bemoan the state of Jewish life and disinterest among Jews today.  If we are a bystander it's as good as if we are crying over our loss.  We have given up hope!  

The message is that we must take action.  Each of us needs to be a partner in the important work of preserving and strengthening the Jewish Temple.  Each of us can do this through little actions each day to impact our own small world and the world of a fellow Jew nearby.

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