Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Alexander Cohen
Chassidic writings teach us that the 21 days between the 17th of Tamuz and Tisha B’av correspond to the 21 days between Rosh Hashana and Hoshana Raba. What is the connection between them?
In Megilat Eicha we read, “Kol rodfeha hisigu’ha bein hametzarim. All the pursuers of Israel overtook her during the time of Bein Hametzarim. Chassidut interprets this to mean that all those who pursue and seek Hashem will find Him during Bein Hametzarim. Similarly we read in Yishaya, “Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo k’ra’uhu b’heiso karov. Seek Hashem when He is found, call on Him when He is near.” This refers to the time period between Rosh Hashana and Hoshana Rabbah when Hashem is especially close to us.
The Three Weeks are a preparation period for Rosh Hashana. On Rosh Hashana, the highlight of our prayers is the segment in Kedusha where we ask Hashem, “Galey kevod malchuscha aleinu Reveal the glory of your kingdom.” We plead for the Divine Presence to once again rest among us and for the Beit Hamikdash should be rebuilt. However, in order for our tefillot on Rosh Hashana to be truly heartfelt, we need to awaken within us a desire for the Shechina’s presence.
The Three weeks are meant to make us aware of all that we’ve lost. That is why our sages enacted the laws of mourning during this period. Ordinarily when someone loses a loved one, the laws of mourning become more lenient as time passes. However, the laws during the Three Weeks are the opposite. The closer we get to Tisha B’av, the stricter the laws become. Why is this so? When a person loses someone close to him, it is natural for him to feel sorrow. In contrast, the loss of the Beit Hamikdash and the Shechina is a distant concept for us. As Tisha B’av nears, we begin to understand what the churban was about, what we are supposed to pray for, and why we mourn. All this is considered preparation for Rosh Hashana. The Gra writes that Rosh Hashana is not a day to ask for personal needs. It is a day to plead for the revelation of Hashem’s oneness.
The gemara writes that at the end of time, darkness will descend upon the world. Many difficulties and challenges will come upon us. It will be much like the Seder night where the practices of the evening do not follow the normal set order of a feast. The gemara explains that we behave in this way in order to arouse the curiosity of our children. Again at the end of time, Hashem will alter the order of the natural world. Evil people will not be punished in this world, while tzaddikim will suffer. All this will happen in order to awaken us to ask questions and to repent.
Chazal tell us that every generation that does not merit to see the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash will be held responsible as if it was destroyed in their generation. How can we hasten the geula? The gemara says that the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed because they did not make a blessing before learning Torah. The Ran explains that the blessing itself was not the cause of the churban, but the fact that they did not learn Torah lishma. They belittled the Torah and they expressed their belittlement by not making a blessing. Understanding the root cause of the churban and working to correct it will bring the geula. Learning Torah lishma is the key to redemption. This is accomplished through serving Hashem with love. The Rambam writes that ahavat Hashem is attained through knowing Him. The more one grows in knowledge of Hashem the more one can develop a relationship with Him based on authentic love.
The tikun of the world will take place at the end of time, as we read in Yeshaya, “Umala ha’aretz deah es Hashem kamayim l’yam mechasim. The world will be filled with knowledge of Hashem.” The more we know Hashem and the more we serve him with love, the more we will be able to accept what He sends us, for we will understand that he is doing it purely out of love. All difficulties will fall away as we will face life’s challenges with emuna, staunch faith, and hope for the promised redemption.