What’s So Important About the Number 316?

What’s so important about the number 316?

I find sometimes that it is difficult for me to mourn and feel the natural sorrow that I should for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Of course, this year we are all more sensitive to how much we truly rely on Hashem. Our thoughts, televisions, radios, and web browsers are all turned towards what’s happening in Israel.

As each day brings us closer to Tisha B’av, I think about what I, as an individual, and we, as a people, are missing without the Beis Hamikdash. Several years ago it was explained to me what’s missing. The number 316.

Based on the Chofetz Chaim’s Concise Book of Mitzvos, 316 is the number of mitzvos we, as a people, cannot perform without the Beis Hamikdash. Another way to look at it is that there are 297 mitzvos (including 26 mitzvos pertaining directly to the land of Israel) that we can perform today.

As we all know, mitzvos are ways that we can directly attach ourselves to Hashem. But if we only have the ability to perform 297 mitzvos today, without a Beis Hamikdash, then there are 316 ways to attach to Hashem that we are missing. This is what makes me sad. I know there are times when I feel that I’m very far from Hashem. With a Beis Hamikdash things would be different. Wouldn’t it be great to just go stand outside the Beis Hamikdah? Feeling the presence of Hashem would be an automatic spiritual recharge.

But I can’t. We, as a nation, can’t. We are missing 316 more ways to get closer to our creator. I hope this Tishah B’av will be the last one I spend mourning.

13 comments on “What’s So Important About the Number 316?

  1. very true. I heard a shiur on tisha b’av a few years ago in which the rav tried to describe the tremendous loss due to not having a beis hamikdash. he described a situation that all of our problems, every single one, is a result of a loss of the close relationship because their is no beis hamikdahs…

  2. For those interested, the name of the book of RYBS ‘s shiurim is “The Lord is Righteous in All of His Ways.” It is published by Ktav and and available either at your local seforim store or from Ktav online.

  3. “I have been going thru the new book of RYBS’s shiurim on the kinos.”


    What is the name of the sefer and where can I pick up a copy?

  4. Thanks to everyone for the comments and checking out the posting.

    Steve- Any chance on elaborating on “We have no idea how much the Churban affected Jewish life. It was the equivalent o a nuclear bomb that continues to set off aftershocks.”

    I know that our connection to Hashem is impaired without a home for Hashem, what else does the Rav say?

  5. Neil, great point about understanding what we’re missing so we can truely mourn the loss.

    FG, so true about wanting.

  6. This is a very practical way of understanding what we are missing. But I also think we are missing the want, not just the mitzvos. We need to feel it more in our hearts. Thank you for posting this!

  7. One can ask this question about all of the mitzvos that seemingly have no “practical application.” IIRC, there is a Meshech Chachmah that states that when a Jew studies those mitzvos he or she takes on the persona of a Kohen, etc.

    I have been going thru the new book of RYBS’s shiurim on the kinos. The following points are especially noteworthy:

    1) Although Klal Yisrael had committed egregious transgressions, HaShem had mercy on the Jewish People , saved them and took out His Divine Wrath on the Beis HaMikdash.

    2) We have no idea how much the Churban affected Jewish life. It was the equivalent o a nuclear bomb that continues to set off aftershocks.

  8. Good points. It’s tragic not to be able to picture clearly all we’re missing.

    By the way, we seem to be assuming that this year’s Tisha B’Av will be its usual mournful self. Since we don’t know when the redemption will come, we can’t rule out that it can come before Tisha B’Av.

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