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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

France condemns the destruction of the Second Temple

Yaniv Salama-Scheer reports that France condemned the destruction of the Second Temple.
I was trying to pump as much information as I could out of a well connected source I had built an excellent working relationship with, we’ll call him Pierre, who often provided me with information other reporters covering French diplomatic activity in the Middle East didn’t get. I had called him up with for some clarifications on the rumors about Regev and Goldwasser, left a message, and decided that since it was my first ever Tisha B’Av in Jerusalem, that I would go down to the Kotel for services.
The scene was overwhelming. There was a sea of people, Haredim, Hassidim, Hilonim, tourists, photographers and security, all crammed into the the Western Wall plaza. Bachurim were sitting on the floor in mourning, grown men were crying, it was a very emotional and inspiring sight, and I was completely caught up in it. As I wandered around taking it all in, my phone began buzzing in my back pocket and brought me back into a world I thought had been left behind at the office for the day.
“Hello?!?! Hello?!?!” I shouted over the noise of the crowd. It was Pierre returning my call.
“Hi Pierre,” I began somewhat hurriedly. “Listen, I can’t really talk now, I’m down at the Kotel for Tisha B’Av, can I call you back in the morning?”
It didn’t occur to me that he probably had no idea what the Kotel was, or what Tisha B’Av signified. Pierre was an inquisitive type, and sometimes over the course of our conversations, he ended up asking more questions than I did. This was one of those times. “Sure, pas de problem, we speak in the morning,” he said. Before I could hit the end button, I heard it.
Mais attend,” – wait he said – “You are where?”
I was certainly not in this conversation. My head was elsewhere. I was antsy, and I wanted to get off the phone. I didn’t want to start sermonizing on the meaning behind this day of mourning, that it was the day that God had decided that future generations would weep in order to commemorate past transgressions. That Israel as a whole on this day would relive the lost hope felt in the desert as they began to angrily follow Moses and question their faith. That because tears were directed inwards instead of toward the Heavens, that for one day a year the Almighty would not mend His children’s broken hearts. So I went with the thirty second ESPN highlight version.
“I’m at the ruins of the temple in Jerusalem. It was destroyed today, so people are coming from all over the country to mourn and to pay their respects.”
Pierre was a government official, not a ten year old attending Jewish day school and already well acquainted with the likes of Vespasian, Titus, and Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai. There was dead silence on the other end of the line, and you could almost feel the panic sinking in on the other side.
“But the president was briefed on the Middle East this morning,” he began shakily. “Nobody mentioned this catastrophe.” and then it came.
“France strongly condemns the destruction of your Temple!”
For the shocking ending of what is apparently a true story, read the whole thing

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