The Midrash comments that Yosef and Binyamin wept over the destruction of the Sanctuaries that would be built in their respective portions of the Land: the two Batei Mikdash that would be built in Binyamin’s portion, and Mishkan Shiloh that stood in the portion of Yosef’s son, Efraim. Horav David Leibowitz, zl, derives from here the overwhelming pain experienced by our forefathers concerning the churban, destruction of the Batei Mikdash. During the greatest moment of heightened joy, when all that should have occupied their minds was the homecoming/reinstatement of Yosef, their long- lost brother, their thoughts were elsewhere. Binyamin was finally able to embrace his brother, the only other child of Rachel Imeinu. He named his ten sons for Yosef, with each name serving as an allusion to the pain and suffering he had endured over the loss of Yosef. Yosef had been alone these past twenty-two years – away from his loving father and only maternal brother. Finally, during the moment of joy as these two brothers were reunited, they thought only about the destruction of the Sanctuaries.
Pain and grief overwhelmed the solace and joy that should have permeated this meeting. Why? Because the destruction of the Sanctuaries was a cataclysmic epic tragedy that completely erased their joy. It is not as if their simchah, joy, was marred. It was eradicated as if it had never existed. How can one feel joyous when the thought of the destruction of the Batei Mikdash looms so strongly in his mind?
Horav A. Henoch Leibowitz, zl, quotes the Navi (Melachim II 20:22) following Yoshiahu Hamelech dispatching emissaries to Chuldah HaNeviah, in which he petitioned her to pray that somehow the Heavenly decree against the Bais HaMikdash would be expunged. Chuldah responded that it was too little, too late; the actions of the people had catalyzed events that would bring about the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. He, the king, who had walked righteously in the path of Hashem, however, V’neesafta el kivrosecha b’shalom v’lo sirenah einecha b’chol haraah, “You will be gathered to your grave in peace – and your eyes will not see all the evil that I am bringing upon this place.” The Talmud (Moed Kattan 28:2) wonders how it could be said that Yoshiahu would be gathered in peacefully (that he would die a peaceful death)? The Navi (Divrei HaYamim 2:35:23) states that the attacking army shot arrows at Yoshiahu. Three hundred arrows pierced his body, making it bleed like a sieve. Is this a peaceful way to leave this world? The pain that he must have endured is beyond imagination! Rabbi Yochanan responds: In other words: Despite being told that the Bais HaMikdash would ultimately be destroyed, despite suffering a terrible, painful death, nonetheless Yoshiahu died in peace. Why? He did not have to experience the devastation of the churban Bais HaMikdash. This gives us a window, an inkling, into the overwhelming pain that he would have suffered, had he witnessed the actual destruction. Only our gedolei olam, giants of Torah, forebears of our spiritual heritage, deeply perceived the spiritual perfection evinced by the Bais HaMikdash, enabling them to understand the utter devastation of its loss.