Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Av 5761 - July 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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The Three Weeks in the U.S.
by Moshe Rockove

As the month of July rolls around in America, with the Fourth of July fireworks lighting up the sky in celebration of American Independence Day and many enjoying their extended summer break, the Jewish community observes the sad days of the Bein Hametzorim.

The Three Weeks come in the middle of the summer vacation season, providing a sobering influence on summer activities. Trips are scheduled after the Nine Days and in general there is a sense of something else going on in our lives that demands our attention, at least during these weeks. The minhagim that we follow during these weeks help us live these sad moments at a realistic level, to enable us to fully comprehend the enormity of the churban habayis.

Life in America, with all its comforts and amenities, tends to make people forget that as Jews, we really don't belong here. The Three Weeks serve as a catalyst to help people realize the truth: we can't take the good life for granted for chas vesholom the tables could turn just as they have in other countries throughout our long golus. It also serves as a reminder that our hopes should rest on hoping to see Moshiach, for we are still in the long and bitter golus.

This is a time to focus on the more sullen aspects of our history, the various tragedies that have befallen our nation over the years. This indicates that we must never lose sight of where we really belong (in Eretz Yisroel with Moshiach) and our sojourn in the U.S. is a mere preparation for that special day.

Things remain relatively normal at the onset of the Three Weeks, with the exception of no chasunas and no listening to music. As the days progress, the feeling of Tisha B'Av increases as people prepare for the Nine Days: finishing up the laundry, buying extra clothing and trying everything on before Rosh Chodesh.

During the Nine Days, though, things are different. Naturally, this has a tremendous impact on everyday life in general and summer life in particular. With no swimming activities allowed, children are deprived of one of their most enjoyable summer pleasures. Camps and day camps alike arrange their schedules during the Nine Days to fill up the time that is normally reserved for swimming every day. Many camps run a special program - - a cantata -- that focuses on churban, golus and the Holocaust to vividly portray these messages through plays and speeches and give the audience a feel for these days.

In various communities, lectures are given to the general audience about the message of the Nine Days and its relevance in our daily life. The speakers exhort the listening crowd to improve their attitude toward sinas chinom and prepare for Moshiach.

"People are interested these days to hear something about Tisha B'Av," said one rav when interviewed for this article. "The minhagim of the Nine Days impact their daily life so they want to know more about the meaning of these days."

Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av is probably one of the longest days of the year -- not only because the day ends late, but also the fasting and other laws of the day really affect a person's physical strength. Nevertheless, many people galvanize themselves to participate in something that will add insight to the meaning of the day with the hope that this will be the last Tisha B'Av we must mourn.

After Eichah is leined on Tisha B'Av night, in some shuls the rav says a few words to set the tone of the day. Some places have a shiur in the limudim that one is allowed to learn on Tisha B'Av; they continue throughout the day after shacharis, after mincha and go straight through the afternoon until ma'ariv!

In fact, Rabbi Homnick of Camp Morris (Yeshiva Chaim Berlin's summer camp in Woodridge, NY) has given such a shiur outside under the trees by himself the entire Tisha B'Av for over twenty years.

Le Chateau, a popular chasunah hall in Flatbush, is open to the public the whole day for people to come in to hear different speakers on inyonei Tisha B'Av. This year's program commences with shacharis and kinos followed by prominent speakers throughout the day, including Rabbi Shmuel Dishon, Rav Matisyahu Salamon and Rabbi Mordechai Becher, a noted Gateways lecturer.

Those who must work on Tisha B'Av wait until the afternoon to begin work. "Some people cannot take off the whole day," said the rav. "One person I know works in toys. The toy industry runs shows a couple of times a year. At times it comes out on Tisha B'Av. If he were to miss this show, it would negatively impact his livelihood for months."

The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation's Video Presentation

Chazal say the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed because of sinas chinom, a fundamental breach in one's respect for his fellow man. We all know the Chazal and wish we could do something to improve our interpersonal relationships, yet it is so difficult to do so. We are used to living with certain attitudes and prejudices towards people and the change is arduous and seemingly impossible. Yet during these days many want to work on their middos in light of the times and need guidance and chizuk to do so.

The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, has taken as its mission to promote the works of the Chofetz Chaim regarding interpersonal relationships: shemiras haloshon, ahavas Yisroel, to make people aware of the great fortune they possess when they live their lives by these ideals. Every year during the Nine Days they sponsor a Machsom Lefi program in bungalow colonies and camps in the Catskills. People sign up for different hours throughout the day when they will refrain from speaking loshon hora during the Nine Days. Hopefully this will serve as a springboard for the participants to continue watching their speech throughout the course of the year as well.

On Tisha B'Av, the foundation presents a video featuring popular speakers who discuss different aspects of bein odom lechavero. This video is distributed to communities across the nation and the globe; last year 40,000 people watched the video in 20 countries across the world that included communities in North and South America, Europe, and some communities in Eretz Yisroel.

This year 360 shuls have asked for the video, already surpassing last year's 260. With a week to go before Tisha B'Av the number could climb even higher according to the event coordinator.

This year's presentation, entitled "A Time to Heal," stresses that in light of the turmoil in Eretz Yisroel during the past ten months, where so many innocent people have lost their lives and many others live in constant fear, perhaps it is appropriate for us to heal our relationships with others. This effort would promote achdus in Klal Yisroel and serve as a zechus for acheinu kol beis Yisroel.

Three separate videos were prepared this year to reach the widest possible audience. One video features Rabbi Aharon Dovid Dunner, the well-known dayan from London, and Rav Yissochor Frand, noted maggid shiur in Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Baltimore.

The second video, which is going to be shown in out-of-town communities, features Rav Frand and Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, distinguished lecturer at Gateways seminars. For outreach communities, a special video presents Rabbi Rietti himself.

"All three speakers basically address the same theme: how unity among all Jews is something we can achieve if we put our minds and hearts to it," said the coordinator. "Yet each one presents it in a different light that is more palatable to one group while another speaker resonates with another group. This format enables us to attract a wider, diverse group with the goal of achieving unity among fellow Jews. The speakers exhort them to take a hard look at the disputes and grievances in their lives and commit to resolve them. If we can reach a higher degree of brotherhood and unity, we stand a better chance of eradicating sinas chinom within us so we can merit the coming of Moshiach."

It is our fervent hope that this year will be the last time we will be writing about sad Tisha B'Av programs, with the coming of Moshiach, bimhera biyomeinu, Omein.


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