Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Why was the Second Temple destroyed?

I was once discussing Second Temple politics with a Torah True friend, and mentioned that the seige of Jerusalem during the rebellion against the Romans might have lasted longer had the local Jewish extremists not burnt the warehouses of food. They did this because they wanted to force the city residents to fight.

I said "And that's why the bhmk was destroyed -because of the bad behavior of the extremists - otherwise the Jews might have been stronger for longer, and who knows how it could have ended."

Right on cue, the guy responded in a voice dripping with mockery: "Really? The Talmud says it was destroyed because of sinas chinam?"

"Oh," I replied, "Because burning the food supply and causing the suffering and starvation of men, women, and children sure sounds like sinas chinam to me."

Yesterday's post promised examples of the sort of dogmatic Torah thinking many of us find so frustrating, and the way so many Torah True people think about the destruction of the Second Temple is as good an example as any. Instead of thinking about the destruction as a real, live event affecting real, live people, they think of it as words: sinas chinam = cause; churban = effect as if the words "sinas chinam" destroyed the Temple as opposed to groups of human beings, engaging in actions specific to their own time and place, that put other actions into motion that led to the churban.

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