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.