From Apher To Pe’er-Tisha B’av

9 08 2011

Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shoshie Nissenbaum 

From Apher To Pe'er-Tisha B'av The Midrash tells us that Hashem asked the great sages and prophets, “Al mah avda h’aretz,”-Why was the land lost? Nobody was able to answer until Hashem Himself said, “Al shelo barchu b’Torah techila“-Because they did not recite the blessings on the Torah. This seems puzzling.

Normally, a mourner begins mourning after the burial and as time progresses, restrictions lessen. However on Tisha B’av, it’s the opposite. We begin mourning 21 days before, and as we get closer, there are more and more restrictions. We reach the climax on Tisha B’av when the halachot are most stringent. At midday, the time when the Beit Hamikdash began burning, the men don tefilin, and the mourning lessens. This seems quite perplexing. Shouldn’t the mourning begin precisely when the destruction began and intensify as time passes? Chazal tell us that any generation that does not merit to see the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash, is considered to have destroyed the Beit Hamikdash in their time. If we haven’t merited to rebuild, shouldn’t Shabbath Nachamu be the most devastating Shabbath of the year?

What was Yirmiyahu mourning when he wrote the megilah in past tense, as if the Beit Hamikdash had already been decimated? Hashem began removing his Divine Presence in stages prior to the churban. Yirmiyahu witnessed this happening, but alas no one else did. The Jews didn’t mourn Hashem’s withdrawal. When they were told they would be exiled, they should have comforted themselves that at least they still had Hashem and the Torah. Instead they sank into despair. They erroneously thought their Torah learning was now worthless too. When that happened, all was lost.

Jewish law states that a Beit Knesset may not be destroyed. How did Hashem allow our enemies to devastate the Beit Hamikdash? There is a principle in halacha that “soser al menos l’vnot-destroying with the intention to rebuild, is permitted. Hashem created the world to bring glory and honor to His name. Every creation reveals Hashem’s greatness. Man brings glory by choosing to recognize Hashem in all of his existence. When Adam sinned with the eitz hadaat, Hashem said “Ayeka-Where are you? How did you fall? Where is the Adam I created who was so holy that he could see from one end of the world to the other?” Similarly Yirmyahu lamented, “Eicha yashva badad“-How are you sitting alone? Eicha and Ayeka are speled with the same letters, and are essentially the same word. Ayeka can be read as “Ayeh kevod” or “Ayeh keter“-Where is Hashem? Where is the crown? Our purpose on this world is to find Hashem, to proclaim, “Ayeh mekom kevodo“-Where is Hashem’s place of honor. We do this by consciously choosing to find Him at every moment.

This is what Yirmiayhu mourned. Nobody noticed the Shechina departing. When Hashem saw that Klal Yisrael were no longer cleaving to Him through the Beit Hamikdash, he decided to replace it with a new medium of connection. He would destroy in order to rebuild, “V’shachanti b’sochom-Hashem’s Shechina rests within each of us and He desires that we find Him within ourselves. We must cry out, “Ayeka” -. Where are you Hashem? This is the avodah of Tisha B’av.

Eicha is replete with Yirmiyahu’s directives to call out to Hashem. “Shifchi k’mayim..” Pour out your heart like water before Hashem. Dimah (tears) corresponds to daleddom-silence, ayin-eyes, hay-Hahem. When words fail us, tears come and they are precious to Hashem. The Arizal teaches that there are twelve parts to the face and each corresponds to a different month. Tamuz is the right eye and Av is the left eye. In Eicha we read, “Eini, Eini yarda dimah.. ki rachuk mimeni“-My eyes shed tears… You are far from me. Just as tears physically cleanse the eyes so too do they purify us spiritually. The Shabbath before Tisha B’av is called Chazon-the Shabbath of vision. We must work on rectifying our perspective by finding Hashem in every moment of our lives. The spies saw negativity. They did not perceive Hashem nor what He had given them.

Tisha B’av, the very day that portends tragedy, is the birthday of Mashiach. We will ascend from afar (ashes) to p’eer (glory). For close to 2,000 years we’ve mourned, not the physical edifice that was the Beit Hamikdash, but the Shechina which was its essence. The Navi tells us, “Tzadik b’emunaso yichyeh-The tzadik lives by his emunah. If we long for Him and call out to Him, we are in a sense acknowledging His presence and He will listen. Though we’ve been through so much, we have not forgotten Him.

May this Tisha B’av be the final day of mourning. May we merit to rebuild and rejoice once again.






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