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    Tefillah – it’s power to prevent prevent the churban

    Had the people living in the era of the churban davened and beseeched Hashem that the churban and the exile shouldn’t come to be, their tefillos would have been answered and the destruction avoided.TorahWellsprings- De va rim The Midrash (Eichah Rabba 5:5) states, “The evil Nevuchadnezzer told Nevuzradan (when Nevuzradan was bringing the Jewish people to exile) ‘Their G-d welcomes teshuvah … If they pray, Hashem will save them. Therefore, don’t let them stop walking for a moment, so they won’t have the peace of mind to call out to Hashem.’” Nevuzradan followed this counsel. If any of the exiles stopped walking along, their limbs were amputated by Nevuzradan’s soldiers. This source shows us that even Nevuchadnezzer knew that the Jews could thwart the exile with their tefillos, so he prevented them from praying. Chazal (Taanis 29) teach, “When the first Beis HaMikdash was destroyed it was erev Tisha b’Av, Motzei Shabbos … and the Levi’im were saying shirah … They were up to the words, “Hashem will demolish them,” (Tehillim 94) they didn’t yet say those words, and that’s when the goyim seized the Beis HaMikdash. The same happened by the second Beis HaMikdash.” The implication is that had they said “Hashem will demolish them,” the two Batei Mikdash wouldn’t be destroyed. Their tefillah would have prevented the Churban. The Gemara (Gittin 56) states: Bar Kamtza advised the king to send a sacrifice to Yerushalayim, to see whether they would sacrifice it. On the way to Yerushalayim Bar Kamtza blemished it. “[Although there was a blemish] the rabbis [of the Beis HaMikdash] figured that they should sacrifice it for the sake of peace. Reb Zecharya ben Avkulas said, ‘If we bring this korban people will think that it is permissible to sacrifice a korban with a mum (blemish) [and the true law of the Torah would be lost].’ “The chachamim considered killing Bar Kamtza, so he couldn’t testify against them. Reb Zecharya ben Avkulas [opposed that plan, too. He] said, ‘People will say that whoever disqualifies a korban, by making a mum (blemish) on it is chayav misah.” Reb Zecharya was cautious that no part of the Torah should be forgotten or misconstrued. Consequently, he vetoed sacrificing the blemished animal or killing Bar Kamtza. Reb Yochanan concluded, “Reb Zecharyah ben Avkulas’s humility destroyed our house, burned the heichel, and exiled us from our land.” The Meor Einayim asks: It seems that it was Reb Zecharyah’s zealous caution to preserve the Torah, which resulted with the churban. Why is this called humility? To answer this question, the Meor Einayim lays down two introductory points: The Meor Einayim says, “The chachamim accepted Reb Zecharyah’s opinion, so he was certainly the gadol hador. (Otherwise, they would have sacrificed the korban for the sake of peace, as they initially planned to.) We also conclude that Reb Zecharyah had ruach hakodesh and he knew that the Beis HaMikdash would be destroyed imminently … For nothing stands in face of pikuach nefesh; certainly not when the lives of all of Klal Yisrael are at stake… Why didn’t Reb Zecharyah agree for the korban to be sacrificed for the sake of peace? It must be that Reb Zecharyah saw with his ruach hakodesh that the decree [for the destruction] was sealed. He figured [that since we can’t prevent the destruction] we should at least prevent the Torah from being misconstrued…” So (a) Reb Zecharyah was a gadol hador, (b) he had ruach hakodesh, and he knew that the Beis HaMikdash would be destroyed in any case. The Meor Einayim continues: “[What is left to clarify is] why didn’t Reb Zecharyah tell the chachamim directly that according to his vision nothing will help to annul the decree? He should have explained to them that their attempts [to maintain peace with the king] would fail, so they might as well focus on preserving the Torah. The answer is, he was humble, and he didn’t want to reveal that he has ruach hakodesh. This is the meaning of, ‘The humility of Reb Zecharyah ben Avkilus destroyed…’ because if it weren’t for his humility, he would have told them; they would have davened; done teshuvah; beseeched Hashem to have compassion on them; and the decree would be rescinded. Thus, it was Reb Zecharyah’s humility that caused the destruction, because he didn’t want to reveal [what he knew with ruach hakodesh].” In review: Reb Zecharyah ben Avkulus was the gadol hador, and he knew about the imminent destruction with ruach hakodesh. His primary concern was to preserve the mesorah of the Torah. He didn’t focus on saving the Jewish nation, for he considered those attempts futile. He was humble, and he didn’t want to tell the other chachamim what he knew. Reb Yochanan said that Reb Zecharyah’s humility destroyed the Beis HaMikdash, for had he revealed that the destruction was imminent people would have prayed and thwarted the destruction.1 For the Jewish people have the power of tefillah. When they use it, they can annul all harsh decrees. We should also use the power of tefillah for all our needs, and in particularly, we should pray for the geulah. The Mesilas Yesharim (19) writes, “One should constantly be davening for Bnei Yisrael’s redemption and for the revelation of Hashem’s honor. Perhaps one will ask, ‘Who am I, and why am I important that I should daven for the galus and for Yerushalayim? Could it be that because of my tefillos the dispersed will be gathered and the redemption will come?’ The answer to this question is, as it states in the Gemara, (Sanhedrin 37), ‘Adam was created alone so everyone should say, ‘the world was created just for me.’ Hashem has pleasure when His children daven to Him about this matter. Even if their requests aren’t answered — because the time hasn’t yet come, or for any other reason — nevertheless, they did what they should, and HaKadosh Baruch Hu is happy with that.” When we turn to Hashem in prayer, He will redeem us. For Hashem answers our tefillos, and because tefillah rectifies the sin that caused the destruction, as we will explain: The Yaaras Dvash (Drush 5) teaches that the first Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because people weren’t turning to Hashem in tefillah. It wasn’t only that they didn’t pray for the redemption; it was also that, in general, people weren’t accustomed to praying to Hashem. That caused the destruction. As it states, “They didn’t pray to Hashem” (Tehillim 14:4).2 The Yaaras Dvash explains that we mourn primarily for the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash. (The second Beis HaMikdash was only a respite.) Since the destruction came because they weren’t praying, tefillah is the way to rebuild the Beis HaMikdash.