- Torah and Jewish Thought
- General Questions
I don’t remember where it is, but I’ve heard about a Gemara or a Medrish which says that physical pleasures used to be stronger during the times of the Beit Hamikdash. If there is such a source, please let me know where it is and maybe an understanding of why that happened. Thank you.
Shalom Yonasan, The sources you are looking for are in Midrash T’hilim 7, 9, “From the day of the destruction of the Beit haMikdash, there is no day without curse, the dew of blessing does not fall, the taste and “oil” of fruit was taken away,… the (pleasure of) taste and smell were also taken...”; Sanhedrin 75a, “From the day of the destruction of the Beit haMikdash, the taste of sex was diminished”. The idea is that in Judaism the spiritual and the physical work together, and when one suffers, so does the other. Just like when a person is physically sick, it’s difficult to achieve a spiritual high, and when an elderly person feels no spiritual meaning to his life, it may be reflected in a disheveled physical appearance and dress, so too on a national level, when Eretz Yisrael, Y’rushalayim, and the Beit HaMikdash are in ruins, the physical and spiritual pleasure are both lowered. The reason being that the real physical pleasures were created to accompany spirituality: the fruit of Israel is holy, the physical beauty of the Beit HaMikdash is spiritual, etc. Similarly, the kabbala talks at length about the spirituality of the proper physical union between man and wife which enhances physical pleasure, as well. On the other hand, when the physical lacks the spiritual, than it’s not “the real pleasure” intended in creation. The proper harmonizing of the spiritual and the physical produce more than the sum of those two parts, so when they’re separated, each one cannot really exist properly, independent of the other. Simply put, when our spirituality and physicality suffer, our spirituality and our physicality suffer! May we see the aliya of all of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael, and with that additional kdusha, the spiritual and physical will return speedily in our days! Rav Ari Shvat .