Victory of Life

Jul 10th, 2009 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Spiritual Growth
The Ta Phrom Buddhist temple in Angkor Wat stands out from all other structures because the government has chosen to leave the entire site in its overgrown, dilapidated, original state of discovery. The temple is crumbling and being absorbed back into tthe jungle in a manner that is both beautiful and frightening. The giant banyan trees are spilling, at glacial speed, over the tops of the temple walls, wrapping around pillars, and pouring into the nooks and crannies between the bricks. Teratological rhizomorphic tentacles grow over the ruins and each other in thick ancient layers. Green creeping vines bubble up out of every crevice and embrace the collapsing sandstone architecture. In the 1930s, H.W. Ponder, in Cambodian Glory, described Ta Phrom beautifully: “Everywhere around you, you see Nature in its dual role of destroyer and consoler; strangling on the one hand, and healing on the other; no sooner splitting the carved stones asunder than she dresses their wounds with cool, velvety mosses, and binds them with her most delicate tendrils; a conflict of moods so contradictory and feminine as to prove once more – if proof were needed – how well “Dame” Nature merits her feminine title!”

The agony of seeing the ruins of Jerusalem is softened by the powerful signs of life renewed. The city grows, expands, vibrates with energy and passions, and most of all, continues to express the victory of Life over Destruction.

Yet, where Ponder saw “Dame” Nature, we see Menachem Av – The Comforting Father: We are not passive observers to roots, branches and mosses. We are active, empowered participants in this victory of life and hope that pumps through the air and earth of Jerusalem and Israel. Ponder observes Nature. We, see God.

God’s Chesed, or Life Force, permeates this world, and resonates more powerfully in Jerusalem than any other place in the Universe.

Destruction comes only when we fail to witness the miracle of this victory of Life Force. Perhaps this is the essence of Rabbi Akiva’s laughter when he observed foxes prancing through the ruins of the Temple Mount: He appreciated the miraculous victory of Life Force over destruction.

We have survived with this vision of victory flowing through our hearts and souls.

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