Spiritual Destruction

1 08 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Avishai David on the Kinnot of Tish B’av

In the Kinnot, we find the term “shavat”, similar to what is said on Shabbat, “Ki vo shavat mikol melachto.”  “Shavat” means coming to a sudden halt.  Chazal say that Hashem sanctified the day of Shabbat instantaneously. There was a drastic, shocking change and everything came to an unexpected standstill. Human beings do not have this capacity to change in an instant. They need time to gradually adjust. Similarly, Rabbi Elazar Hakalir, who authored most of the Kinnot, uses the term shavat to illustrate the jarring suddenness of the Churban.  No one believed that Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash would be destroyed.

Rav Soloveitchik explains that in reality there were two Destructions. There was the actual physical destruction and there was the terrible desecration of Hashem’s name caused by the disgrace and contempt in which the Jews were now held by the gentiles. The greatest Chilul Hashem is when the Jewish people are banished from their land due to their sins. The Gemara in Bava Metzia mentions that from the day that the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed, the gates of tefillah were locked. There is a sense of distance from Hashem, a state of hester panim. This is the greatest and most powerful punishment. When Hashem takes away his Divine Providence, does not distinguish between righteous and evil men, and takes His focus off of Klal Yisrael, that is a profound tragedy.
Despite the fact that we have fallen we have not given up hope. We await the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zecharaya – “Elderly people will sit in the streets of Jerusalem and children will play…” Why is this particular prophecy of consolation singled out? Rav Soloveitchick quotes a story in Gemara Makkot. Rabbi Akiva and several Sages once saw a fox come out of the ruins of the Beit Hamikdash. The Sages cried and Rabbi Akiva rejoiced explaining that if the prophecy of devastation predicted by Uriah had come true that was a sure sign that the prophecy of redemption by Zecharaya would be fulfilled too. Rav Soloveitchik explains that animals will only build their homes in places that are so desolate that they will never be populated. The prophecy of Zecharaya depicts a completely opposite era in which Jerusalem will be so congested with people, that the elders and children will fill the streets.  Rav Soloveitchik further elucidates this with an explanation of the Seforno on the verse in the Torah, “Vahaya zaracha ke’afar haretz, upharatza yoma v’kedma..”-Your children will be like the dust of the earth and you will spread out to the east and the west..” When we will reach our lowest point and we will be so downtrodden like the dust of the earth, then we will begin to ascend and spread out once again. A Jew never gives up hope.  The last verse in Eicha ends with a renewed message of encouragement, “Hasheveinu Hashem Elecha V’nashuva, chadesh yameinu k’kedem- Bring us back to you Hashem, and we shall return, renew our days as of old.

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