G-d, You have rejected us, made a breach in us, been angry. You will restore us! (T’hillim 60:3)
“You have rejected us” – sent us into exile – and “made a breach in us” with the Temple’s destruction. You have “been angry” and vented Your wrath on stone and wood. All this is proof that “You will restore us! “
And you, son of man, take yourself a brick, place it before you, and engrave upon it a city – Jerusalem – …and lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel. (Ezekiel 3:1,3)
A sign made by a prophet indicates that the prophecy will come true regardless of a change of behavior on the part of the people involved (Derashot HaRan). Thus in prophesying that Israel would vanquish the king of Aram, Elisha instructed the king of Israel to shoot arrows from his house in the direction of Damascus (II Kings 13:15-17). The sign ensured that Israel would defeat Aram even if the Arameans were to repent and the Israelites to sin.
Why did G-d ask Ezekiel to represent Jerusalem with a brick when the city was built of stone?
A stone that is broken remains broken. But a brick, before it is fired in the kiln, can be restored. G-d asked Ezekiel to represent Jerusalem by a brick to show that Jerusalem will eventually be restored.
R. Yohanan ben Zakkai was going out of Jerusalem, when he saw a [Jewish] girl picking barley from the dung of the animals … – Ketubot 66b
When the people of Israel fulfill G-d’s will, they are sustained by the essence of the Divine abundance, and the forces of evil are sustained by refuse. But at the time of the destruction, the increase of iniquity caused the forces of evil to be sustained by the essence of the Divine abundance. Then it was the people of Israel who were sustained by refuse…
Jerusalem was destroyed because they felt no shame before one another… Jerusalem was destroyed because they treated great and small alike. (Shabbat 119b)
Shame and honoring the great would have deterred the people from sinning. With no deterrents, sin increased until Jerusalem had to be destroyed.
For forty years before the Second Temple was destroyed, the lot [for the goat for Hashem] did not come up in the right hand, the scarlet band did not turn white [on Yom Kippur to indicate the atonement of Israel’s sins], the western lamp of the Menorah did not remain lit, and the doors of the Temple opened by themselves. (Yoma 39b)
“The doors of the Temple opened by themselves” to indicate that the Temple was destroyed because of people whose lips opened by themselves against others.
“Thus said Hashem to His Mashiach, to Cyrus…” (Isaiah 45:1). Was Cyrus the Mashiach? Rather, the Holy One, blessed be He, said to the Mashiach: I must complain to you about Cyrus. I told him that he was to build My Temple and gather My exiles, but he said, “Who among all His people… let him go up to Jerusalem… to build the Temple of Hashem…” (Ezra 1:3) – Megillah 12a
When the Mashiach saw that the Second Temple was destroyed, he might have lost hope of a Final Temple that would never be destroyed. Hashem let the Mashiach know that the Second Temple had not become the Final Temple because of Cyrus, and the promise of an eternal Temple would be fulfilled in the Third Temple.
Because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, Jerusalem was destroyed. Because of a rooster and a hen, Tur Malka was destroyed. Because of a wagon axle, Beitar was destroyed. (Gittin 55b-57a)
These three large cities were destroyed and thousands of their inhabitants slain because of petty reasons… The sins which caused G-d to decree these punishments – baseless hatred and malicious gossip – are considered trivial by people in comparison to murder and incest… Haven’t we suffered enough death and destruction? If we want our suffering to end, let us put aside our differences and reach out with love… (Ben Yehoyada)