Today was a typical day: carpool pick-up, after school errands, and a trip to the local pizza store for dinner. When we got out of the car, I grabbed two quarters from my wallet for the parking meter. I handed the first quarter to my younger (four-year-old) daughter who promptly told me, “My sister can go first.” “That’s very generous of you,” I beamed and gave her a big hug. The girls love feeding the meters!
When I handed the second quarter to my six-year-old daughter she asked, “Do you have any more of these?” “No,” I replied, not sure what she was getting at. “Oh, OK. In that case I’ll let my sister have this one,” she said as she handed the coin back to me. “That’s so generous!” I exclaimed and gave her a kiss, “but don’t worry, she already has a quarter and she wants you to have the first turn at the meter!” When the girls realized what had just happened they giggled and hugged each other.
Upon seeing this, I was reminded of a very similar story told about two brothers. One was married with kids, the other was single and lived alone. Their houses were right next to each other, and their backyards connected. Every night, each brother would sneak out of his respective home and secretly leave some of his crops on the other’s property. The married brother wanted to help his single brother – he was all alone and had no one else to look out for him. The single brother wanted to help his married brother. He had many mouths to feed, and the single brother wanted to relieve the burden.
After years of carrying out this ritual, one night the two brothers happened to leave their homes at the same exact time and their paths crossed along the way. Each brother saw the other with his handful of crops. When the brothers realized what was going on, they dropped their loads, embraced, and cried on each other’s shoulders.
We’re told, that when Hashem (God) saw this scene play out, He decided to build the Beis HaMikdash (The Holy Temple in Jerusalem) in this exact spot. Now I had heard this story years ago, and I thought I understood it then: the brothers did a mitzvah, it made Hashem happy, so He decided to set up shop there.
Tonight, though, after seeing my daughters’ generosity, I realized that there was a deeper reason as to why the spot was chosen. Although we have a very hard time grasping what it was like to have a Beis HaMikdash, (since it’s been gone for two thousand years) one thing we do understand is that it was built so that Hashem could be close to us.
This evening, when I saw my little girls taking care of each other so nicely, treating each other so kindly, I understood exactly why Hashem chose the spot of the brother’s embrace as His Holy of Holies. When we see our kids behaving in such selfless, ego-free ways, all we want to do is be close to them.
May we make Our Father in Heaven proud with how we treat one another and merit to have this Tisha B’Av be the last one forever.