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Thursday, 19th July 2018

It is said that at the time of the “Churban/destruction of the Temple”, as the Beis Hamikdosh (Temple) burned, the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and many other fellow Kohanim (priests) stood on the roof and threw the keys of the Beis Hamikdosh up to Heaven in an act of contrition and profound despair, expressing the idea that "we have not fulfilled our duty as custodians".  (It is further said that a hand came out of Heaven and took the keys back). 

What may be the significance of these Keys?

In Mishnah Tamid 1.1 (which deals with the daily procedures in the Beis Hamikdosh) we learn that, each night, the Elders of the Kohanim went to sleep holding the keys of the Beis Hamikdosh.

Perhaps we could suggest the following:  When we unlock a door to a building, we usually have a clear focus and sense of purpose.  We unlock our house to go in when we return from work, we want to go in and have a purposeful relaxing evening. We unlock a car to begin our journey.  A Shul is opened each morning so that our daily "Avodas Hashem" (service to G-d) - our focused, pre-arranged encounter with G-d can begin.

"The Keys" represent this idea.  Perhaps at the time of The Churban, the act of throwing the keys back was the despair of the Kohanim actualised, we have failed in our mission, the Service of the Beis Hamikdosh was not focused, it grew to be no more than a ritual, with the real purpose of closeness to G-d being diluted to insignificance.  Let us reflect on this and use the nine days as an opportunity to refocus and realign our own "Avodas Hashem".


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