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Sefer Ezra: Part 21 - Doing Teshuva
"And Ezra arose from the Beis Hamikdash, and he went to the chamber of Yochanan ben Elyashiv, but he did not eat bread or drink water because he was mourning over the transgression of the exile."
The fast had ended, but Ezra's mourning over the sins of the nation was so intense that he was unable to eat or drink.
"And a call went out in Yehuda and Yerushalayim to all of the golah to gather in Yerushalayim. And whoever did not appear after three days, like the counsel of the officers and elders, will have all his possessions destroyed, and he will be separated from the golah."
The men of Bnei Yisroel gathered to Yerushalayim within three days on the twentieth day of the month of Kislev. They all sat in the courtyard in front of the Beis Hamikdash, trembling both from fear due to their sins, and the rainy and cold weather. Ezra then arose and addressed Bnei Yisroel, reminding them of their transgression of taking foreign wives, and imploring them to do teshuva, and evict the foreign wives and children.
"The entire congregation answered and said in a loud voice, 'True, we must do as you say. But there are many people, and it is the rainy season and it's difficult to remain outside, and the matter is not of one or two days, because we have greatly sinned in this matter."
Bnei Yisroel agreed to do teshuva and evict the foreigners, but practical matters made it impossible to carry out the eviction immediately. Only a small percentage of Bnei Yisroel had intermarried, but nevertheless, there were too many people involved to carry out the eviction in one or two days.
"The officers should remain for the entire congregation, and everybody in our cities who kept foreign wives will come at set times, accompanied by the elders and judges of each city, until the anger of our G-d will subside from us, until this matter."
Ezra, and the other leaders of Bnei Yisroel remained in Yerushalayim to supervise the eviction of the foreign wives and children. By the first of Nissan, they had finished rectifying the sins of Bnei Yisroel by investigating which wives were required to be evicted, and evicting them.
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