The Temple

IMG_4239This meditation is for use from the 17th of Tammuz to Tisha b’Av, commemorating national calamities, central among them the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Throughout the ages, Jews have prayed for Jerusalem to be rebuilt. For some, that symbolizes a coming age of beauty and holiness, not a return to sacrificial rites. For others, the sacrificial cult is necessary for G-d’s glory to dwell among us.

This may be the most controversial piece I’ve written. It turns mourning for the loss of the Temple into a new metaphor: the Temple mourning for our inability to hear G-d’s Voice, the priests mourning for a divided House of Israel and the sacrifices mourning for those who have forgotten G-d’s call to service.

The Temple (Written 17 Tammuz 5771)
Do not mourn
For the Temple Mount.
The stones mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That G-d’s Voice
Can still be heard in the hills.
The stones mourn for you
Who have forgotten
That G-d’s Voice can still be heard in the valleys,
In the forests and deserts,
In the waters and skies.

Do not mourn
For the lost priests.
The tribes mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That G-d’s people are one.
Ephraim and Judah,
The Levites and the daughters of Zelophehad,
Ask why we still divide the House of Israel,
Why we still cast judgment,
Why we spurn each other with anger.
The tribes mourn for you who have
Forsaken your brothers
And rejected your sisters,
Closing your minds and hardening your hearts.

Do not mourn
For the lost sacrifices.
The yearling without blemish,
The ephah of fine flour and the hin of oil,
Mourn for you.
They mourn for you who have forgotten
That G-d requires your love and your power,
Your hope and your deeds.
The yearling, the flour and the oil mourn for you
Who have forgotten
That G-d wants the blood that flows through you,
The strength of your days,
Your song and your laughter,
Your wisdom and healing.

Tear your clothes
And sit in ashes
If you must.
Then, rise up!
Rise up and listen to G-d’s call:

Love My People Israel,
Love all of My People Israel.
Then, you will know the depth of My righteousness
And will drink from the well of My compassion.
Give them your heart.
Give them your days in service,
With joy and thanksgiving,
So that My Glory will dwell among you,
And that your days are long on this earth.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

Postscript: Instead of the phrase “Do not mourn for…,” I considered using “When you mourn for…” I ultimately decided to leave the introductory lines to each stanza as originally written, choosing to challenge our relationship to the Temple and to each other head on, without pulling the punch. Here’s a link to another prayer/metaphor that uses preparing to say the Shema as a dream/vision of the ingathering of Jews to our land. And here’s a prayer called “Season of Sorrow.”

Tweetable! Please help share this prayer with this suggested tweet, including the link:
“Do not mourn for the Temple Mount. The stones mourn for you…” The Jewish Temple mourns for the people:

Please consider making a contribution to support this site and my writing. For usage guidelines and reprint permissions, see “Share the Prayer!” For notices of new prayers, please subscribe. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo Source: Alden Solovy

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

“Alden has become one of Reform Judaism’s master poet-liturgists…" - Religion News Service, Dec. 23, 2020

“Mesmerizing, spiritual, provocative, and thoughtful, Alden was everything you would want in a guest scholar and teacher.” – Rabbi Denise L. Eger, Congregation Kol Ami, Los Angeles, and Past President, CCAR

"Alden Solovy has become one of the most revered liturgists of the last decade…" - Jewish Post & Opinion, March 29, 2023

“Alden left everyone feeling inspired.” – Cantor Jeri Robins, Shabbat Chair, NewCAJE6