Weekly Story: Napoleon Heard the Cry

by Rabbi Sholom Avtzon

One night Napoleon was travelling in his coach, when he heard cries and lamentations that pull at ones heart. Feeling sorry for the terrible misfortune that this family or group suffered, Napoleon thought that perhaps he, the powerful Emperor could help alleviate some of their suffering. So he ordered his driver to stop driving and he got out of the coach.

Entering a dimly lit room, he saw many men, old and young sitting on the floor or low stools and weeping profusely, lamenting in a language he didn’t recognize.

So he asked one of them, to please tell him, why is everyone weeping?

The person replied, “Today, our holy temple was destroyed by our enemies.”

Napoleon didn’t understand this reply, so he said, “I am the Emperor of France (and Europe), what Temple are you talking about and who are your enemies? I don’t know of any Temple that was destroyed today.

The Jew replied, “Your royal highness, the Temple I am talking about is our sanctuary that was destroyed over seventeen hundred years ago,[1] by the Romans. I said today because this is the date on the Jewish calendar that it occurred.”

Hearing this Napoleon remarked, “If a nation can bemoan and grieve over the destruction of their Temple that occurred so many centuries ago, and their cry and lamentation, make one think that it happened now or just recently, that means, that the Temple is still alive by them. It is eternal. Just as they grieve over its destruction, without question they will merit to see the promise to rebuild it.”

Excerpted from the forthcoming sefer, Sippurei Meir – The Stories of a Chossid

[1] The first beis hamikdash was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 3338, the second beis hamikdash was built seventy years later, in 3408. It was destroyed four hundred twenty years later by the Romans in 3828. He became Emperor of France in 5564 (1804) which is 1736 years after the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash.



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